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Financial Advisors Have Retirement Options But May Not Know It

SuperUser Account posted on November 01, 2013


It's five in the morning, and Roberto is pushing through the rolling three-foot waves about to enjoy some deep-sea fishing off the Miami shore. As the captain of his 42-foot Custom Carolina, he is excited to bring back a big bounty of tuna and mahi-mahi. This is Roberto's 28th trip offshore this year and he hopes his three clients aboard will have a great day of fishing.

Roberto is a 69-year-old financial advisor who spends about 10 hours a week in the office, 15 hours fishing, 10 hours golfing and the rest with his wife and four children. He conducts much of his business via smart phone with the assistance of his junior partner and assistant. He is a perfect example of an advisor who understands the gift he has earned. He spent 30 years of his life building the perfect book: $151 million in assets, 53 clients and $1.4 million in fee based revenue. He has a small but beautiful office in the suburbs of Miami. The office is big enough for him, his junior partner and a part-time sales assistant.

Roberto has a 70/30 split with his 35-year-old junior advisor who is a CFP and has been with him for 15 years. He keeps his expenses low and between him and his partner they split a 73% profit margin. This means Roberto has $715,400 in income and his partner gets to keep $306,600 — not bad for a junior partner who didn't have to build a book

It was 15 years ago that Roberto decided to stop working 50 hours per week and start enjoying a work/life balance. The word retirement has never been in his vocabulary. He plans on reducing his participation in the business over the rest of his life while increasing his partner's share.

He watched his father work for 40 years at a job he disliked, all the while dreaming of great retirement he would one day enjoy. And he retired at 62, but tragically died just two years later.

Fortunately for Roberto, he found a career he loved and vowed to enjoy life while he was still young. Like Confucius, Roberto always said, "If you find a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life" and he loved being a financial advisor.

Not every advisor truly understands the gift they have. There are very few careers in the world where you can still earn a high income while you gradually reduce your hours.

As a financial advisor, you have the choice of business mix (i.e. fee-based vs. transactional) as well as the firm you work for — or your own firm. Some firms have no business succession plan in place and others make a small attempt.

If a financial advisor does a good job of relationship building, their clients will follow them anywhere. This is another positive aspect of this industry. Where else can one change jobs and take part of their revenue with them?

Most financial advisors enjoy their profession and, if done correctly, they will never have to officially retire.

This is because all of them have a choice to one day start their own firm and structure it how they feel serves them. Some advisors get the uniqueness of the career and capitalize on it and others never do.

If 90% of an advisor's success lies in their ability to build a book — and the firms don't hand out books — then why are the firms taking the lions share?

Let's break the industry up into three basic groups. Traditional W2, banks and independent firms. At some traditional firms they have a basic sunset plan in place for retiring advisors. This plan usually consists of the retiring advisor slowly transferring their book over to another advisor at the firm while still participating in a declining percentage of the revenue.

These plans usually have a four- to seven-year life and the advisor can stop working sometime after introducing the new advisor to his/her clients. This is a great deal for advisors inheriting the book and of course the firm. For advisors giving away their hard earned book, this is a token gesture by the firm. The only thing it really does is allow the retiring advisor to get some income for a few years without having to work.

Most banks are even worse when it comes to an advisor's retirement. At a bank they might throw you a party, give you a watch (no diamonds) and off you go to play shuffle board.

The banks feel the clients are 100% theirs and you don't deserve anything upon retirement. They feel they gave you revenue off their clients during your employment and that's enough.

Even with a non-solicit, our average retiring bank based advisor client takes 30-50% of their book when they go independent. For the bank based advisors the options are simple: take the watch or take your clients.

With any type of firm, if you have clients who trust, like and respect you they will follow you anywhere. If this is the case you are in control of your destiny.

Most financial advisors got into the business because they enjoy a high income and love the flexibility the career allows. Most of them are also "Type A" driven individuals that enjoy a challenge and don't really want to retire fully. However, most of them are not really aware of all the options available.

Here at the Rummage Group, we consult with countless advisors who are aware of a few options, but not all. They also don't have the time to research the hundreds of unique options available.

It's important for an advisor to know, if they want to one day sell their own practice for up to 3X revenue and just walk away, there are many options and buyers available. We get calls every week from big teams that are looking to buy a practice or book. The challenge is finding and educating retiring advisors that there are many buyers available. On the other hand, if you wish to keep working, but slowly reduce your hours, that option is available as well. For a retiring advisor it's hard to select an option they're unaware of.

There are many opportunities for retiring advisors. An advisor just has to know where to look or who to consult. This is one of the best careers in the world because of the ability to have loyal clients and annuitized revenue.

In most jobs, you only have one option: work until you can afford to retire, and it's all or nothing. There is no option to monetize and sell what you've built or to maintain your income while working less — into your seventies or eighties.

However, when it comes to retirement for advisors, most don't take advantage of these unique options. Advisors should not sell themselves short by accepting the retirement watch or giving away their hard earned book for pennies. My advice to retiring advisors is, "don't just give away the bag of gold you worked so hard to obtain, rather discover your options and monetize it."

Happy hunting!

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group, a consulting firm for advisors. He can be reached at