Last month we shared with you the reasons to hire a new planner and transition clients and in this month’s post we conclude our two part series with tips on when to transition clients, how to transition clients, and how to overcome pushback you may receive.
When to Transition Clients
- Timing will differ - Every firm is different and not everyone will be ready to take on client relationships at the same time. It will largely depend on your service model, client type, relationship with client, and how quickly your new planner can develop. Usually 5-6 months on the lower end and up to 4-5 years on the upper end.
- Don’t rush It - A sample timeline could be something like this - 0-1 year New Planner time outlay - 90% observe and learn, 1-3 years 50% contributing and 50% learning, 3-5 years, 75% contributing and 25% learning, 5+ years 90% contributing and 10% mentoring new planner that is observing, etc. Remember this is a fluid process, so use this as a guideline. Obviously, if someone develops more quickly, you should accelerate any predetermined timeline you are working from.
- When times are good - Ideally, choose a period when market returns are solid and things seem to be pretty boring for the client. It is much tougher to try and transition someone to a new lead advisor when there is a major market meltdown or life event that might require a lot of hand holding.
How to Transition Clients
- Start with new clients - New clients won't know the difference when “suddenly” you and your associate planner are in every meeting together. You clearly position your associate planner as the next superstar in your firm, and you have the confidence in them to hire them so if the client/prospect has the confidence in you, they will work with the associate planner no matter what they look like or how old they are. Hopefully it is already part of your process but if not, be sure to send out a communication to all current clients about your new hire(s), and include their bio with yours in the prospect meeting materials.
- Be Straightforward - Tell your existing clients your plans for focusing elsewhere on the business (or retirement, or whatever it is) and that they will be seeing more of another lead planner on your team. Clients might be sad, but want to see you succeed, and can even be happy for you.
- Continue Coaching - Even if you aren’t in the game any longer, you can act as a guide and mentor for the lead planner if they have questions and/or are experiencing difficulty in any way. Also, let the clients know that they can always call and ask for you if they need to - it will make them feel better. I think you will find that they won't contact you though if you follow the timeline and process for the transition.
How to Overcome Pushback
Even if you do follow everything in your plan perfectly, there will still probably be pushback from a few (though usually just a few!), where the client states that they feel like you are abandoning them and leaving them in the lifeboat with someone they do not know and who is inexperienced at steering the ship.
Some ways to overcome those potential objections are to gently remind the clients that the new captain was trained by you! Also reiterate that the client is valuable, and the change is not because you don't want them or have time for them, and simply that you are focusing on another part of the business which could actually make you less of an effective client facing planner anyway (and/or will make the business’s overall value better for them as a client in the future). Furthermore, you can emphasize that the new person is not an underling, and is better than you on some things.
Remember at the end of the day, if the clients trust you implicitly to do what is best for them, they will ultimately accept that you think it is better for someone else to work with them instead of you - especially if you trained that successor.
Contact us if you would like to ensure everyone on your team is the right fit for your team, in the correct role based on their personality and preferred work styles, and aligned with your mission and vision.