To most advisors, expanding one’s practice from a ‘lifestyle’ practice to a larger firm that is more encompassing requires two sets of skills: financial planning skills that can build and service a growing client base, and the management skills required to lead an effective team that will make strategic long-term decisions to sustain and grow the business. This generally ends out with two types of advisors in lifestyle practices: those who deliberately pursue a lifestyle practice and enjoy operating as a sole practitioner, and those who have simply settled for one to avoid the management responsibilities involved in growing a business.
In our 72nd episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how building a bigger practice doesn’t necessarily mean having to become an all-in-one manager and visionary; advisors who feel stuck in their current roles may find that by questioning some of the recurring scripts they follow (and that may actually limit their ability to realize their own potential), they can identify and seek out the right talent to help implement their vision for a larger firm!
As a starting point, advisors may wonder, “Okay, but if I don’t manage my company, who will?” To address this dilemma of finding the right help for an advisor to manage and grow their company, Gino Wickman, in his book Rocket Fuel, outlines two essential business roles: the visionary who envisions the new directions for the business to take, and the integrator who does the actual building, hiring, training, etc. Wickman points out that the visionary/integrator dynamic is quite common in many successful high-profile businesses, such as Walt Disney and Roy Disney, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
In reality, establishing a successful visionary/integrator dynamic involves two key requirements. The first is to identify team members with unique visionary and integrator “superpowers” and to assign them to roles where their talents can be expressed. The second is the importance of establishing and fostering trust between team members. Because when a visionary introduces an integrator to the team, they have to be able to rely on the integrator not just to implement and manage the processes that support the company’s vision, but also to make the right decisions to sustain business operations. Even though this may require some initial effort to plan the role and recruit the right person, when done successfully, delegating responsibility to an integrator will eventually free up more time for firm owners to leverage their strengths and dedicate themselves to realizing their vision.
Ultimately, the key point is that for advisors who want to grow beyond a lifestyle practice, unlocking growth potential to realize something larger may be as simple as shifting one’s mindset – instead of getting stuck on the question, “How can I do this on my own?”, advisors can instead ask themselves, “Who can help me do this?” After all, advisors with a vision to grow their firm need to have the bandwidth to focus their energy on attracting clients to come to them in the first place. And with the right team in place, growth doesn’t have to come at the cost of all of an advisor’s free time; in fact, it may actually open them up more bandwidth and freedom than they’ve ever experienced before!