Business Continuity Planning
I recently attended the ACP (Alliance of Comprehensive Planners) conference. They unveiled a new Business Continuity Committee which really got me to thinking about how XYPN members can support each other in times of need. Many of you probably already know this is a hot button for me. I have witnessed the aftermath of a sudden advisor death and the beauty of advisors coming together to support a colleague battling cancer. It has made me a strong proponent of continuity planning.
This is not just an initiative for the solo entrepreneur, but also to provide support for additional advisors in the firm when emergencies arise.
First steps are to create an outline of the basic information you need. You’ll need to cover financial issues for your business operations, client information access, insurance coverage, the list can be quite extensive and it will be different as you plan for short-term, long-term, or permanent disability.
Define the time frames for each type of disability. Short term may be 4 or 6 weeks. Set a limit for long-term vs. permanent disability. For each type of contingency, you will want to determine what activities need to be covered. For short-term issues, you may decide that no compensation is needed, but a reasonable compensation should be set for longer term relationships.
Create templates you will need. You’ll want letters to clients for short- or long-term disability. Have a template for whomever contacts your clients in the event of permanent disability or death. Take time to map out the process you will need to follow, or have others follow.
Your client contracts can explain when information may be shared. There will be different needs and amounts of information to share depending on both the clients’ needs and the type of disability.
Coordinating with Colleagues
As you form your contingency group, learn as much as you can about how you each deliver planning. This is not to say you must plan and deliver in exactly the same way, but the more familiarity you have, the easier it will be to see what clients need as you step into the planner role.
Enlist Friends, Family, and Others
You can create a packet of information that someone close to you has access to. Make sure this person has a power of attorney, but do not expect your next of kin or close friends to be your contingency plan. They will be dealing with the worst, should the worst happen. Have them hand this information off to the people acting in your stead, who will be a bit more removed from the situation and more able to professionally handle your business and clients’ needs.
Spread Out Responsibility
Make allowances for capacity. Should you need to pass off 100 households you cannot expect one firm (or your business partner) to take all of this over at once. By creating a larger contingency planning group, you can spread the work around, ensuring clients are well served in a time of transition.
You may wish to acquire business overhead insurance to cover the cost of running your firm during an emergency. You will want to work with your insurance provider to determine the appropriate coverage for your situation.
Use the Buddy System
I found the suggestion that each advisor find a “Contingency Buddy” a great idea. This is not the fun stuff you signed on for when you launched a business, but it needs to get done. Find yourself an accountability partner and make sure you each follow up. Your buddy isn’t the person who takes over for you, this is just to help you get the ball rolling in case of emergency. You can be a sounding board for one another as you work through scenarios, then take the contingency coverage to a larger group. You, your clients, and even your compliance folks will be happy you took the time to do what is best for your clients and your business.
Next week: Steps to Transformation Growth with Angie Herbers
Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.
When not motivating clients and cooking up new ideas to help XYPN member success, you can find Arlene on her road bike, or trying to master the art of tandem cycling without destroying her marriage. In the winter months, she gets to the ski slopes as much as possible, hunting hidden bits of fresh powder amid the trees of Breckenridge.
If you'd like to learn more about Arlene's member-exclusive executive coaching services click here.