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If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be in the financial services industry, I would have laughed in your face.  I was on a straight path of graduating high school, going to college, and becoming a math teacher. Little did I know that that my dream of teaching would come to light, but in a whole different manner.


I have always had a true passion to help others and give them their “ah-ha” moments. Growing up, the only way I knew how to do that was to become a teacher and sports coach. What I didn’t realize was that I had something much deeper inside of me.


You see my grandfather, Marvin Hardy, had the same passion and was an insurance broker his whole adult life. He worked for Minnesota Protective Life and then moved over to IDS, with about 50 agents working under his branch, The Protective Group.

Unfortunately, what my family experienced next happens all too often and is so easily preventable.


My grandfather’s life was suddenly cut short by that frightening and deadly word: cancer. It was something neither he nor anyone else saw coming—so much so that he had no succession plan in place.


From there my grandmother’s life was turned upside down. Not only was she dealing with the pain of losing the love of her life (she never dated or married again), she was now dealing with the difficult task of trying to handle and sell my grandfather’s business. (View Marvin’s business newsletter here.)


Marvin’s business was definitely a family operation. My grandmother, LuEtta, worked just as hard as my grandfather did, with unexpected dinners (my grandfather loved to surprise her with five people coming to dinner with five minute’s notice), countless events and constant business stress. She did this on top of running the household and managing three very busy children’s lives. (It was actually four children at one point, when a foreign exchange student lived with them, who to this day is STILL a member of our family.)


In the end, the business was sold to another advisor in the branch—with no clause in the sales contract about what would happen with payments if clients left the practice. That advisor turned out to be not so great, and within a year, all the clients had been re-contracted and no longer had any tie to my grandfather.


In turn, my grandma lost a lot of income and money owed to her.


As a result of this experience, in the past decade, I have tasked myself with trying to turn the industry statistics on succession and business planning around. I cannot understand how an industry that thrives on planning has such a low statistic of professionals actually practicing what they preach. The saying “the cobbler’s son has no shoes” definitely holds true today in our industry.


Understandably, talking about our own demise is quite uncomfortable, but that is no excuse to let anything like what happened to my family happen to yours.


Start planning now!


No more excuses. Bring in 2020 with a fit of momentum and goals ahead of you, soaring to heights of greatness you never imagined, and covering it all with a written document!


Here are a few tips on business and succession planning:

Business Planning Tips Succession Planning Tips
-1 year document stating what you want to accomplish. No more, no less. -HAVE IT IN WRITING. Verbal agreements can become ambiguous over time—and unenforceable.
-Review the document quarterly and update anything that has changed. -It’s never too early to start looking and planning.  Don’t have the mentality of “I’m never going to retire” or, “That’ll never happen to me.”
-Include achievable goals! Don’t set yourself up for failure. -Be honest with yourself. If you meet a potential successor but something feels off or not right, remove yourself. Don’t try to push it; go with your gut. You worked hard to build what you have.
-Share the document with whomever you can. The more accountability in it, the less likely it is to collect dust. -Seek legal counsel to facilitate the sale and make sure you are protected.
-Document the plan in a format you are attracted to and is easy to follow, such as a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint, etc. The options are endless and there is no wrong choice when it’s a matter of what’s most comfortable for you! -Always have a Plan B!  I see many times where advisors put succession plans in place with each other, but what if something happens to both of you at same time?