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Success and Succession: Unlocking Value, Power, and Potential in the Professional Services and Advisory Space



"My team takes pride in helping firms identify transition needs and plan for optimal results. Hearing perspectives and insights about how to avoid pitfalls and maximize positive outcomes directly from advisors like Eric, Jay, and Tim is invaluable for firms as they think about both leadership and equity transitions. Their point is clear: It's all about getting things right for the clients. That cannot be said often enough!"
—Bernie Clark, Executive Vice President, Schwab Advisor Services

"Launching an advisory firm from scratch is undoubtedly risky, but so too is becoming a successor and taking on significant debt to purchase a business for which you will ultimately be responsible. Fortunately, future successors won't have to navigate this dangerous terrain blindly, as the authors of Success and Succession—with a depth of wisdom that can only come from the real experience of having gone through succession plans themselves—share crucial guidance on key operational, financial, and emotional issues that successors must be prepared to navigate in their own succession planning transition. Simply put, this book is a "must-read" for anyone preparing to become the successor of an advisory firm!"
—Michael Kitces, Partner & Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, and publisher of the financial planning industry blog Nerd's Eye View

"A few seasons ago, I assembled two separate panels, one of founders, the other of successors, to ponder the pathways to success for transitions within the independent advisory firm industry. My mistake was not putting those thoughtful people on the same stage at the same time. Well, here it is in Success and Succession, even better for the very careful consideration that Eric, Jay, and Tim have given to one of this industry's most urgent issues. Thanks, gentlemen, for helping so many others unlock their potential by effectively coming to grips with one of their most difficult challenges."
—Bob Veres, Publisher, Inside Information

"Success and Succession will inspire you to leave a lasting legacy in the advisory business you've spent years building. A transformational read where you will embrace a different perspective and proven journey into transferring your business to the next generation of leaders. The authors have come together and given a truly brilliant perspective into the journey of succession planning. This is a must-read for only those advisory firm owners who wish to have a business greater than themselves, and who also wish to leave their stamp on an industry they helped build."
—Angela Herbers, Co-Founder and CEO, Kaleido Inc.

"Success and Succession is an amazing blueprint for this stage in the advisory movement. It is flexible enough to provide insight for a variety of types of practices, yet specific enough for our firm to take many of its concepts and build them directly into our succession plan. Since it incorporates a founder's perspective with that of successors, it addresses the complexity and trade-offs objectively and usefully. I loved this book."
—Ross Levin, CFP®, Founding Principal and President, Accredited Investor Inc.

ERIC HEHMAN is Chief Executive Officer of Austin Asset. Eric joined Austin Asset in 1997 as an unpaid intern, became a principal in 1999, and CEO in 2007. In 2014, Eric completed the seven-year transition plan providing for the retirement of the firm's founder.

JAY HUMMEL is a Senior Vice President in the Corporate Strategy group of Envestnet. He spends much of his time consulting with the company's largest Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) clients and prospects, helping them build and deliver on their strategic vision through their partnership with Envestnet.

TIM KOCHIS is a 40-plus-year veteran of the wealth management industry and a founder and former CEO and Chairman of Aspiriant. He successfully transitioned equity ownership and management responsibility and now consults with firms around the world facing similar issues.

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

Section I: Operational Challenges . . . and Solutions

Chapter 1: The Founder as the Sun 3

Chapter 2: Replacing the Sun: A New Solar System 15

Chapter 3: Ordering Off the Menu 33

Chapter 4: Setting a Vision, Together 43

Section II: Financial Challenges . . . and Solutions

Chapter 5: It’s Always About the Money 63

Chapter 6: Splitting the Pies: Defining What Is Enough 79

Chapter 7: Let’s Make a Deal 99

Section III: Emotional Challenges . . . and Solutions

Chapter 8: It’s Not Just an Office 117

Chapter 9: Breaking Inertia 135

Chapter 10: Derailed 147

Chapter 11: Building a Legacy 165

Some Final Words 173

Bibliography 177

Supplemental Material 179

Interviewee Biographies 189

About the Authors 201

Index 205