Acquiring a Financial Advisory Firm? Ensure the Transition is a Happy One (Part One)

The value in acquiring a financial advisory firm lies in securing the clients and ensuring an ongoing and happy transition. Your communications with the clients of the acquired firm play a key role in the acquisition process and this two-part blog will look at the considerations that need to be made in safeguarding as many clients as possible. We will be looking at how to communicate, including whom the news should come from and when, and what to communicate as well as ensuring continuity for the clients.
There are many reasons why a financial adviser may sell their firm and the terms can vary. It could be that they are retiring or that they are leaving with immediate effect due to ill health. In such circumstances where an adviser is no longer able to fulfil their role there would need to be an immediate transition.
Who should the communication come from?
Ideally the communication should come from the adviser who is selling their practice. However, this may not always be possible so then the second choice would be for the client’s new adviser to send it. This ensures that the clients don’t feel like they are being passed around and can immediately make a connection with their new adviser.

When to say it?

The best time to communicate the news to clients is after everything has been confirmed and things are about to start moving. Alerting clients too early could cause them to worry for no reason. However, once change is imminent you should ensure that they know that the change is on the way.

What stationery should you use?

You will need to introduce the new brand to clients early on and using the acquiring brand’s stationery will help with this. Alternatively, you may want to use the stationery of the existing brand for the introductory letter and then the new brand on further communications.
Sometimes the acquired brand may maintain its identity for a number of years, for example, to remain compliant with the regulating firm. Therefore, choosing which stationery can be complicated and more than just a marketing decision; all angles should be considered. However, managing a number of brands will become costly over time and an internal plan should be devised on how to handle this.

Overall, the most important thing is to make it clear to your clients who they are doing business with. When choosing which stationery to use, don’t forget to think it through from the client’s perspective and the concerns they may have. Continuity first, with the view to introduce the new brand over time may be the best strategy in reassuring your new clients.

Attention to detail

The trusted relationship between client and adviser will change and so little things will matter in developing and keeping the client’s trust. Clients will appreciate attention to detail and thus good spelling and grammar will make a good impression. Therefore, check your communication for errors before sending it.
This will be the first of many communications with your clients so it’s vital to build trust and reassurance. Take the time to think through the communication journey and rather than undermining the good work of their previous adviser, build on it. Now that you know how to communicate with your new clients, look out for next week’s post where we will be looking at what to communicate.

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