Tips for Revitalizing a Stale RIA

Spotting Problems Before They Hold Your Firm Back Is Crucial.
There are wealth managers who don’t identify with the problems we’re going to talk about, but those who don’t identify with these issues should probably consider themselves, fortunate.
Here are some of the indicators of problems at your wealth management business:
Do you have myriad employees who are CFAs, CFPs or CPAs, whom you consider to be merely processors?
Is your staff not entirely empowered or incentivized to bring in new business? Have they gotten complacent and comfortable and would rather babysit an aging client base?
Do you usually use your veto at investment committee meetings?
Have you changed your services offered since opening the doors?
Is your firm built around some sort proprietary worksheet that you developed, even if better technology is now available for these processes?
Is the firm’s identity centered around you, the founder?
If you answered yes to a couple of these questions, you might be on the verge of combatting a stale RIA?
Are you in the way of your business?
For wealth management firms to outlast their founder, the successors need to respect where the firm came from, the craft, and their client base.
In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen the rise of an entire wealth management industry that has been built by entrepreneurs (RIAs) who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty—mortgaging everything to build the empire they now sit on. These guys knew their clients…and the clients knew the founders. These entrepreneurs became the embodiment of their brand.
It’s time for the new generation to demonstrate their leadership skills and new ideas to drive those brands forward.
Your wealth management/ RIA firm’s heirs may have been chosen—not because of their stellar leadership qualities, but because they have put in the time, stayed at the firm for the long haul. Supported you. They may be good operation managers…but that does not make them quality leaders.
Whatever your reasons, this is how small businesses get stale. The founder continues, never hands over the reins, and the rest of the staff just administrates. It’s treading water, and it will not improve without innovation. The client base ages along with the firm and then they enter the wealth drawdown stage of their lives…and the firm business erodes.
Making changes…and surviving
When clients show concern about the future of the RIA firm, financial advisers should be able to say that the founder is still in the back, but now we are working on some innovative things with a firm full of fantastic wealth managers. For this to be successful, the wealth managers need to know that the firm will reward innovation and success with both compensation and authority.
The wealth management firm may need to make other changes as well. Some of those original rainmakers are timeless and should be treasured, but that recipe needs to be learned and then updated with the times as necessary…and other strategies just may not fit the firm in the times. The founder needs to recognize how serious this is and embrace change for survival.
This process helps the next generation become the new generation of financial advisers…and allows the founder to enjoy their retirement—the very thing they’ve been selling all these years.