Clients should be comfortable with the idea of the absence of an exit advisor before it “disappears”. It is best to develop the relationship between successors and customers through periods of joint or overlapping service. This can be accomplished through joint meetings and through a successor consultant providing various services directly to the client. Overlapping service is easiest before retirement if the current advisor’s team member is the successor. Overlap can also occur after retirement where the successor retains the retiree on pay for a specified minimum period. The one-year overlap will provide a full-service cycle (review meetings, contributions, tax season, etc.) allowing the client to experience continuity of services through a successor advisor. If the successor will provide a new investment or service approach to referred clients, a longer overlap period may be required so that clients can see the referred advisor supporting the change and experience what the successor brings to the table.
Step 18: Inform your customers about your last exit date
When the exit advisor has finalized his or her retirement date, send clients a formal retirement letter/e-mail with enough time to say their final goodbyes (possibly a month or two).
The process of selecting successors and preparing to convert clients can be very arduous and unfortunately often delays their exit by consultants. To help consultants in the process www.christinetimms.com offers downloadable templates that include: Phases of Transition Timeline Checklists, Succession Evaluation Worksheets, Team Member Activity Lists, Business Model Articulation Checklists, Sample Letters, and more .
The next Building Your Practice series of articles will deal with hiring, training, and motivating a consultant’s team.