The Magic Formula for Advisory Firm Success? There Isn’t One

I’m often struck by the parallels between the independent advisory business and consulting with independent advisors. For instance, most veteran advisors I know have learned not to take clients who aren’t ready to take advice; no matter how big their portfolio is, it’s just not going to be a pleasant experience for anyone.

Over the years, we, too, have learned that working with owner-advisors who aren’t ready to take advice is a bad idea—which is, of course, ironic.

Like advisory clients, owner-advisors are often “sure” they know what they need, and are usually looking for a quick fix to get their firm “back on track.” Perhaps most surprising, more often than not these owners are very resistant to taking a systematic “planning” approach to chart the future of their firms: determining where they are now and where they want to be in the future, identifying the challenges they are facing and coming up with a plan to get there. Go figure.

With that said, in our experience, the most difficult idea for many owner-advisors to get their brains around is that building a successful advisory firm is a process, not a formula. Specifically, there’s no magic formula: no template that some consultant can just plug into your firm and solve your problems overnight. That’s because every independent advisory firm is different—and what works for one firm, or 10 firms, won’t necessarily work for your firm.


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