RIA Firm Succession Planning: How Marketing Can Help the Process

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Editor’s Note: This post is a collaboration between Marissa and another member of the Gregory FCA team, Kathy McConnell.

At a breakout session at the recent TD Ameritrade National LINC Conference, the discussion centered in on advice for RIA executives looking to have success in transactions, as either buyers or sellers. The panel discussed the range of options, from merging into a national RIA brand to aligning with a financial partner who could provide liquidity to existing partners while allowing the firm to manage itself independently. At the heart of the discussion, though, was the real issue that many owners of RIA firms hate to face: their own succession planning.

The day you decide to sell your business is a pivotal moment in your life and the life of your enterprise. But, it should just be the beginning of the process. As you consider next steps, it is easy to want to extract yourself from the day-to-day and make way for the future leadership of your firm. Our clients at NFP Advisor Services noted in their recent Alpha Acquisitions white paper that potential buyers are watching you before you are looking out for them, so investing in building value immediately after you decide to sell can put your firm on better footing.

To maximize the value you can achieve, there has to be continued investment in the firm throughout the process of exploring a sale and identifying a deal partner. Creating brand equity for your firm, institutionalizing a marketing process that can fuel growth and demonstrating the quality of your professionals for both client acquisition and recruiting purposes are objectives that should be meaningful to any business owner, but only increase in value as you work toward a sale.

At Gregory FCA, we’ve worked with owners of wealth management firms preparing to sell, and we have first-hand experience in seeing what works to support the process. While you may be preparing to exit the business, there are three top-line promotion strategies we recommend to promote your business and build your client-base to maximize the potential value a buyer might place on your firm:

  1. Boost your social strategy. Your existing customer base is likely already active on social media and your prospective customers want to find you online. Engaging customers via social media platforms adds personality to your brand and allows your end-user the opportunity to interact with your product or service in a different way. Make sure your social pages feature current logos and contact information and your team is updating the content on a regular basis. If your firm is just getting started, pick one platform and master it before expanding your focus to others.
  2. Get your firm’s name in the news. Media relations increases awareness of your product or service and adds unparalleled credibility to your firm. When it comes to sharing your message through the media, timeliness is key. Does your firm specialize in tax-advantaged strategies? The late-winter tax season is the perfect opportunity to showcase your advisors’ expertise. Focus on college planning and 529 plans? The upcoming graduation season provides a timely event to discuss your team’s strategies for families.
  3. Tap your best spokespeople for free—your employees. No one knows your business and its capabilities better than those who work there. Encourage them to post content about the company on their social channels. Train them on how to effectively represent the company and convey its key messages. Once they’re ready, unleash them at industry conferences or set them up with media interviews. Not only will this grow your brand awareness and boost employee morale, it’s also a nice tip of the hat to some of your hardest working employees – those you may be eying up to succeed you or even join you on your next venture.

Managing a succession planning strategy has a lot of moving parts. If you are ready to walk away, you need to examine the strategy you have in place for showcasing the value of your firm, your brand, the professionals, services and products you have to offer. Investing in the growth of your firm as opposed to shutting down marketing could be the best thing you can do to extract full value and exit your business on a high note.