Advisor Retirement: Smooth Transition

Q Why is it so difficult to think about life in retirement?

Timms: Most consultants are very happy to advise; it was a huge part of her life and identity. Services are available to help professionals and entrepreneurs such as counselors analyze their personal interests and priorities to determine what they need to do to be happy and fulfilled in retirement.

As for my trip, I discovered early on that I enjoy writing. After about 10 years in my career, I thought that I might want to write books on practice management, but I didn’t want to take time off my family or my clients. That interest became my goal when I retired.

While the advisors decide how and when to retire, they can systematically reduce their working hours or take longer vacations. I’ve found that this approach has helped me, my team, and my family gradually adapt.

Q Is the Covid-19 pandemic having an impact on advisor pension trends?

Timms: The pandemic has left most people feeling more vulnerable to potential health problems, which likely inspired consultants to at least plan for business continuity. In addition, after being locked down for a long time, the advisors learned a little about themselves. This may inspire some counselors to retire earlier, while others may develop a new appreciation for the personal interaction of going to work every day and thereby waiting longer to retire.

Some consultants who were about to retire may have delayed their plans to help their clients through the crisis or would like to introduce their successors through face-to-face meetings with clients.

Q In the succession planning that you developed [see sidebar below: 18 succession steps for retiring advisors]what is a critical first step?

Timms: The consultant can help himself and his employees by articulating his business model as well as the usual services of his customers – in the form of communication, investment selection, financial planning and tax planning. Examples of the information are the number of households, the income generated and the assets under management. Consultants should also be able to break down some customer characteristics such as age and gender.

This can be a method of describing to others what the counselor is doing and can even help them decide what type of successor to look for. You can also use it to outline what you would change – paying more fees or diversifying portfolios more, for example. The counselor may later request that a potential successor complete a similar checklist so that the retiring counselor can understand the process and compatibility of his or her prospective successor.

In addition, consultants should maintain a good contact management system that can be transferred to a successor. The system would contain notes of past and future customer interactions, making it easier for a future successor to pick up where the retired advisor left off.

Q What are some of the toughest steps and your advice in these areas?

Timms: The first seven steps of my exit process into retirement lead to the choice of a successor, the most difficult but most important step.

Probably the hardest of the 11 remaining steps is setting a timeline for the business transition, and my best advice is to keep it a little flexible. In addition, it can be very difficult to determine the future of each team member, as well as the roles of the remaining team members. So I recommend lots of communication between everyone involved.

Q What are your tips for drafting company transfer agreements?

Timms: Many companies will have materials that can be used as a basic starting point. It’s easiest if you don’t have to start from scratch, but you can also go to a lawyer who has already worked on these contracts. In any case, you should always check inheritance contracts with an external lawyer.

Your business support is vital as companies may have book transition requirements due to obligations to customers. All three parties – the departing advisor, the successor and the customer – must be satisfied.

Q When is the right time to communicate this to customers and how long should the transition period be?

Timms: A consultant can build trust with the client by telling them another consultant or team member who will be there for them in an emergency and when the consultant eventually retires. But you can’t talk to customers for too long before you have a plan because there will be too many questions and it is imperative that you have the answers before thinking about speaking to customers.

Clients should be given sufficient advance notice of the advisor’s actual retirement date to allow for a one-year transition period that allows for an annual review for each client. This also proves to clients, while still having access to the retirement advisor, that the successor can handle the workload. If a full year is not an option, I suggest that the overlap period include high service hours, such as Even if the outgoing consultant’s team takes over, I would suggest six months to allow clients to get used to the upcoming change.

Life after counseling: Finding the meaning

Before you start thinking about retirement and choosing a date, consider what kind of person you are and how that affects your goals, said Susan Latremoille, a retired financial advisor who is now a partner at financial services coaching firm Next Chapter Lifestyle Advisors is in Toronto.

Latremoille and her partner Marianne Oehser work with both financial service providers and their customers. Latremoille and Oehser found that members of both groups often delay retirement due to non-financial fears and insecurities. “If you just ask people about their interests and goals, you’re more likely to get a short-term bucket list,” said Latremoille. “What we do first is a deep dive into [people’s] Behavioral DNA. ”You and Oehser use a tool called SuccessFinder, which evaluates personality, motivations and priorities based on 85 characteristics.

Most consultants and professionals, for example, tend to be very purpose and career focused, so they may choose to start a business after they officially retire and keep helping people, Latremoille said. However, some people are highly motivated by humanity and their community and are more inclined to volunteer on a board of directors.

Through this assessment and other exercises we “work with” [advisors] to draw up their letter of intent and a [non-financial] Lucky ‘portfolio’, ”said Latremoille. The happiness portfolio spans eight areas including family, community, and general wellbeing. Part of the process is optional quarterly reviews – Next Chapter has a client who has been with them for five years.

Latremoille describes retirement as a time when people need to “rewire” and “get a better balance in life”. The follow-up phase must be meaningful for the consultants so that they are satisfied with their experience in the company changeover.

18 follow-up steps for retired consultants

After a career of helping clients prepare for retirement, it is your turn to retire. Christine Timms offers an 18-step plan to ensure that you, your customers, and your successors experience a smooth transition:

  1. Clarify your commitment to your customers
  2. Articulate and document your business model
  3. Determine the best business model for your customers
  4. Determine the best fee structure for your customers
  5. Decide how much information you want to share with a potential successor
  6. Decide whether you need one or more successors
  7. Find and select one or more successors
  8. Plan a schedule for your retirement and book the transition
  9. Compare products and services with your successor
  10. Determine the future of your team members and include them in the conversation
  11. Plan the roles of all team members of your successors
  12. Plan the office space
  13. Review or create a website and marketing materials
  14. Creation of company transfer agreements
  15. Prepare scripts for customer meetings
  16. Let your clients know of your intention to retire
  17. Plan and provide a time period with overlapping services
  18. Notify customers of your final exit date

© Christine Timms, 2021. (For more information and downloadable resources, visit

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