This story begins with a $280 million AUM business, 2 owners, 5 staff with one doing operations coordination and compliance work, 10% annualized new growth, and no capacity for more clients. The two owners were business developers, wanted to shed business management responsibilities, and wanted their succession plan finalized within a year. So, what to do? And at what pace? And how to juggle all the initiatives successfully without hurting the office culture?
The answer on “what to do” was the following:
Initiative #1: Identified the potential skills and passion of the operations coordinator through a series of operational process changes. We positioned the operations person as leader and trainer during the effort of creating more effective operational processes in the new CRM. Not only did she lead and train, but she also took on the role of mentoring staff and providing strategic recommendations. This “test” confirmed this person had the skills and passion to mentor, lead, train, and deserved the authority necessary to effect change.
Initiative #2: Implemented an improved tech stack and integrations to lower the workload, increase productivity, and improve the consumer experience (365, Redtail, Net Documents, Sharefile, LinkedIn, MGP).
Initiative #3: Documented and refined the client segments, criteria, services, minimum revenue, and team members for each segment.
Initiative #4: Refined staff roles with career paths and clarity on client and non-client facing responsibilities.
Initiative #5: Built employment track for interns to create the next generation of advisors.
This pace of change required everyone focused on habit changes and allocating time for non-client facing work. Staff and Executive Strategy meetings were crucial to keep lines of communication open.
The firm experienced accelerated growth, an empowered team, and a succession decision that was more fruitful than expected.
Outcome #1: Operations staff member was promoted to Operations Manager (and in the following year, to COO).
Outcome #2: The pace of growth doubled with the earning of $30 million new assets. This was an annualized growth rate of 22%, double the pace they were growing in past years.
Outcome #3: The initial succession idea converted from a lower valuation, acquisition deal to a merger with a higher valuation and more leverage.
The willingness to adopt change, delegate authority, and focus on the business goals allowed this firm to grow and create value for the employees and owners at a healthy pace.
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