Rick Newkirk, Consultant – Internal Practice Development with Waddell & Reed, Inc.
Great Practice Solutions
There are many ways to structure a team, but regardless of size, specialties or background, the benefits of teaming are clear. Teams are often more productive than advisors operating an individual practice in both revenue and operating efficiencies. Utilizing data from the Great Practice Solutions Sales Planning & Tracking tool, the year-over-year revenue for Waddell & Reed teams from 2018 to 2019 was up 190% compared to 114% for non-teamed advisors.* There are a few things to consider when you are thinking about creating or expanding your team.
What is your motivation for finding one or more advisors to partner with? Perhaps it’s to spend less time in the office doing administrative tasks and more time with clients or family. Maybe you have simply hit a productivity wall and teaming is the only way to grow your practice. Regardless of your reasons, teaming will ideally improve the client experience by offering them access to a wider scope of knowledge and information, which can pave the way for more opportunity.
Perform a SWOT Analysis
You should know the state of your practice before you determine what your team should look like. Performing a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis on your practice doesn’t have to be a complex exercise. The key is to be honest about your own evaluation. Put aside any preconceived notions about your own business and ask challenging questions.
- Strengths – What do you do well? Perhaps you are excellent at hosting client events. Do you need a team member who’s also good at this?
- Weakness – What does your practice need in order to improve? Teaming provides you a chance to bring in an advisor to fill in any gaps. For example, if you do very little financial planning, maybe you should consider this when looking for individuals to team with.
- Opportunity – Find a niche in which your practice is not currently present. Think about your succession plan. Even if you aren’t nearing retirement, teaming provides the opportunity to identify someone to serve your clients once you decide to step away.
- Threats – Identify any risks to your practice. Does your current support staff limit the number of households you can properly support? Do time constraints pose a risk to your overall client experience? Teaming may help reduce your exposure to these threats and work toward a long-term resolution.
Strategic Planning: Culture, mission and vision
Understanding your organization’s culture, mission and vision can play a key role in the success of a team. Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot and for good reason, as it is one of the most important intangibles of any business. It includes understanding the environment you want to create for your clients, employees and partners and is represented in the attitudes, expectations and standards set for everyone involved. Your practice’s mission identifies the team’s purpose, while the vision can outline a two-to-five-year future state of your business. The team vision is the foundation of business planning and will maintain team focus on common goals. In formalizing both a vision and mission statement, you can define where your practice is going and how you want your business to look when you get there.
Organizational Design: Team dynamics, role evaluation and performance management
Another important intangible to consider is how team members get along professionally and personally. For example: does your leadership style mesh with the overall culture and personality of the team? If individuals are on the same page, they will be more productive when it comes to communicating on workflow, client interaction, meetings and even conflict resolution. Remember – one bad apple can ruin the bunch. When everyone on the team is focused on a common goal that is clearly communicated, the organizational design of your practice will be an important factor in the success of your practice. A successful business owner knows that clearly defined roles and responsibilities are critical to getting work completed effectively and efficiently. Hiring the right people and effective performance management drives increased productivity.
*Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individual results will vary.
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