One of the keys to developing a successful business Exit Planning practice is the creation of an advisor panel from which to select appropriate professionals for each planning project. In our last post we reviewed the list of various different advisors that can be on your advisor panel.
Now, let’s look at the qualities that make advisors effective members of your advisor panel.
- Expertise in their profession.
- Experience with owners. Rather than set a minimum number of years of experience, look for broad-based experience useful in Exit Planning. Some advisors may have 25 years of experience with owners but limit their practices to the preparation of tax returns or funding buy-sell agreements.
- Willingness to offer suggestions informally (i.e., not billable). Exit Planning Advisors often seek suggestions from their advisor panel before making initial recommendations to owners to assess whether a recommendation is sensible, and/or others could be as or more effective. Having expert advisors available to discuss a client’s particular situation before your client engages an advisor is a critical aspect of Exit Planning.
- Time-sensitive. All Exit Plans are deadline driven. Advisors who do not deliver their work product on time delay the entire planning process for the owner and all the other advisors. Don’t work with them!
It makes sense to consider putting multiple advisors from same profession on your advisor panel roster. That’s why I like to refer to an advisor panel rather than a team. You may recruit two or three CPAs but find that only one is available or has the type of experience you need for a particular client situation. Consequently, all of your clients’ advisor panels will not have the same members.
As you talk to prospective members of your advisor panel, you will want to explain the planning process you use with owners, your role in it and the roles they will play as members of the panel and in the planning and implementation of a business or Exit Plan. Keep in mind that being an expert in one’s profession does not mean they are an expert business planner. This holds true for the advisors on your panel.
Many BEI members create one or two “Advisor Panel Roundtables” composed of six to twelve advisors from different professions. They meet periodically to discuss current planning cases, review and comment on a case study that you provide, and perhaps describe their practices in more detail. We find that when professional advisors gain knowledge of what Exit Planning can be and do, they become enthusiastic participants.
Many advisors, especially those practicing in smaller communities, find recruiting expert advisors to be difficult. To them, we suggest that they ask. Ask the expert advisors they currently work with to join an advisor panel. Explain what you expect from a panel member and they may be able to refer you to other advisors in other professions. Referring other advisors to you benefits them and you. We find this approach to be the easiest and most productive method of building an advisor panel.
Alternatively, BEI maintains a list of members, by profession and geographic area. If you are having difficulty finding members for your advisor panel, you may wish to interview advisors from that list and/or ask them to recommend other advisors who might be interested.
Keep in mind the three actions that keep the process simple for Exit Planning advisors:
- Initially address an owner’s most pressing concern, not every concern and not Exit Planning in general.
- Use a process, a system, that organizes who (advisor and owner) does what, by when.
- Develop and use a team of top-notch advisors from other professions.
- Developing a panel of expert advisors is crucial for every advisor who seeks to help owners plan for the future of their businesses and their future.
- Planning can be more complicated than necessary when unfamiliar advisors are involved.
- It’s a lot easier to work with advisors you know and trust and who have an understanding of your planning process and their role in it.