"We're starting to see it play out now as advisors lose big accounts," said Tom Nally, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, which serves as a custodian for independent RIAs. "Clients may not always ask about it, but they are thinking about it."
Succession planning isn't just about entrepreneurs realizing value for the businesses they've built. It's about ensuring that clients' needs are met and that the practice can remain an ongoing business after its founder has retired.
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Increasingly, a good succession plan is a necessity for keeping existing clients and attracting new ones. "Advisors can't change the inevitable," Nally said
"They need to live by the practices they preach," he added. "Clients want to work with someone doing the right things for their own legacy."
Eric Schwartz, CEO of Cambridge Investment Research, a broker-dealer for more than 2,500 independent advisors, said that the lack of long-term succession planning in the industry is already hobbling advisory practices.