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Practice Made (More) Perfect: Transforming a Financial Advisory Practice Into a Business


"Once again, Mark and Rebecca have captured the essence of running an advisory firm. They articulate the importance of setting a clear strategic direction, driving superior execution across all aspects of operations and technology, and the importance of hiring, training, motivating, and rewarding the people who make it happen each and every day. Practice Made (More) Perfect is an excellent reference for any firm owner who is interested in transforming his/her firm from a practice into a business."
—Charles GoLdman, industry executive

"Mark, as usual, asks probing, if not disturbing, questions that will serve to demonstrate why active management is a requisite for sustaining value in your advisory business. With so much relevant content in this book, if you're not sure where to begin or how far to read—try starting with page 206: 'The Price of Indecision.' If that doesn't motivate action . . . it might be too late for you."
—Matt Lynch, President and CEO, Capital Analysts

"Mark is an industry leader, trusted advisor, and true friend. The ideals and concepts found in Practice Made (More) Perfect are the very same Mark shared with us as we were planning and building our business. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have his support, and we are constantly reminded of his sage advice, especially when our management team meets monthly to review our business goals and execution."
—Steve Braverman, Managing Director, Pathstone Family Office

"Thinking through all the options and ramifications of strategic business decisions can be daunting. However, reading Practice Made (More)Perfect is like having the ability to talk through these mission criticalissues with your own personal mentor. It is an essential companion for any owner or senior executive in a financial advisory practice."
—Michael E. Goodman, President, Wealthstream Advisors, Inc.

"Without a doubt, Mark and Rebecca understand the ongoing needs of the advisory community.?Practice Made (More) Perfect is a must-read for firms who want to build a viable, enduring advisory business."
—Angela Herbers, President, Angela Herbers & Associates Inc.

Mark C. Tibergien is Chief Executive Officerfor Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC, a BNY Mellon company, and a Managing Director and memberof the Executive Committee for Pershing LLC. Foreight consecutive years, Accounting Today has recognized Mr. Tibergien as one of the "100 MostInfluential" people in the accounting professionand Financial Planning has identified him as a "Mover and Shaker" in their annual review of industry professionals. In 2011, for the ninthtime, Investment Advisor recognized him as one of the "25 Most Influential" people in the financialservices industry.

Rebecca Pomering is a partner with Moss Adams LLP and CEO of Moss Adams Wealth Advisors, the firm's wealth management division, where she is responsible for the growth of the firm, including strategic planning, sales and marketing, team development, human capital, CPA firm integration, financial management, and mergers and acquisitions.

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction xix

CHAPTER 1. The Financial Advisory Business: What’s Next? 1

What Are Top-Performing Firms Doing? 3

The Business as Client 4

10 Things to Think About 4

CHAPTER 2. Strategic Business Planning: Defining the Direction 11

Muddled Messages 12

What Is Your Strategic Differentiator? 14

What Is Strategic Planning? 14

The Strategic Planning Process 16

CHAPTER 3. ManagingWorkflow: The Back OfficeMoves Forward 35

Sources of Inefficiency 36

Achieving Efficiencies 37

Does Efficiency Come at a Cost? 39

Managing Risk 45

CHAPTER 4. Building Leverage and Capacity 55

Getting to the Next Stage 56

Becoming a Market Dominator 57

The Challenge of Growth 58

The Entrepreneurial Crossroads 59

Cornerstones of the Professional Practice 66

Models That Work 68

Leveraging Your Affiliations 72

Big Is Beautiful 76

CHAPTER 5. The Human Capital Plan: People Who Need People 81

The Problem You Can’t Do Without 82

Aligning Human Capital with Strategy 83

The Nature of the Work 86

The Nature of the Worker 90

The Interviewing Process 93

CHAPTER 6. Creating a Positive Workplace: Professional Development 99

The Career Path 101

The Appraisal Process 104

Coaching and Development 107

The Workplace 109

Building a Foundation 114

The Four-Way Test 115

Lessons on Inclusion 125

CHAPTER 7. Rewarding Behavior and Performance: Compensation Planning 129

Developing a Plan 135

The Components of Compensation 139

Establishing Base Compensation 149

Establishing an Incentive Compensation Plan 150

Owner’s Compensation 153

CHAPTER 8. Reading the Financials: Financial Management 155

Fundamentals of Accounting 155

Constructing a Financial Statement 156

Tying the Financials Together 165

CHAPTER 9. Income, Profit, Cash Flow: What the Numbers Are Saying 167

Formatting the Financials 168

Analyzing the Income Statement 169

Analyzing the Balance Sheet 179

Analyzing the Statement of Cash Flow 184

Financial Impact Analysis 185

CHAPTER 10. Managing Growth: The Search for Solutions 189

Harnessing Resources 190

Using Financial Leverage 192

Managing Cash Flow 194

How About Equity? 195

Referral Agreements and Joint Ventures 196

Practice Acquisitions 199

Investments in New Initiatives 203

CHAPTER 11. Exit, Stage Left 205

The Price of Indecision 206

Sale Planning versus Succession Planning 207

Wisdom or Obsolescence? 209

What to Do? 210

Keeping It in the Family 211

How to Make a Partner 217

What About the Successor? 223

Merger as a Succession Plan 226

So What Do You Do? 228

Seeking Counsel 230

Developing the Assumptions 231

Take Control 232

CHAPTER 12. On Leadership andManagement 235

What Defines a Leader? 236

Who Will Emerge? 239

Is Anybody Leading? 240

Rites of Passage 242

Ready, Fire, Aim 244

Awakening the Manager in You 248

Practice What We Preach 251

Hiring Your Boss: Do You Need a CEO? 251

Afterword 257

Appendix 261

About the Authors 297

Index 299