— June 11, 2018
No matter which stage your business is in – from start-up to mature – one of the most important elements is the counselors you enlist to advise, support and protect you on your journey.
The list of potential advisors is a long one: attorney, CPA, financial advisor, real estate agent, marketing and brand management, and on and on. I’m a big proponent of helping business people find a trusted team that can serve you for the long term. Rarely does a single professional have the expertise to handle all aspects of a client’s business life, and a team-based approach can help you cover all your bases and tie everything together. That’s especially true if you appoint one advisor as the “quarterback” to ensure that everyone on the team is working together with an eye on both short- and long-term financial, professional and personal goals – an advocate who’s always on your side of the table, even when you’re not in the same room.
It’s one of the most critical objectives of the family office advisory team at the wealth management firm I lead: helping clients – from CEOs to entrepreneurs to professional athletes – integrate and align their key advisors to ensure that everybody is moving in the same direction. The more successful you and your business are, the more you’ll find that a team of trusted advisors is key to sustaining that growth. As you’re looking at your own team, here are three things to keep in mind to help make sure you’re pulling together the best possible people:
Assemble with care. The best endorsement of a potential advisor is a recommendation from someone you trust. Networking is an excellent way to meet potential counselors, but make sure to do your research. Like you would with any business deal, do your due diligence. Scrutinize any close advisors in your business and personal financial life – make sure they have the appropriate experience and capabilities to thrive in their role, and that they’ll be a fit with your way of working. And if you have questions they can’t answer or sense anything amiss, especially if you sense a potential conflict of interest, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from another qualified professional.
Make sure your advisors are looking out for your interests. The old refrain that “I hire good people and then get out of the way” is optimistic, but it only works if the people you’ve surrounded yourself with have your or your organization’s best interests at heart all of the time and act accordingly. This applies to all aspects of business counselors, but it’s especially applicable to financial advisors. Whenever possible, look to hire advisors who have a fiduciary responsibility, a legal mandate to look out for your best interests and not their own. This model ensures that the advisor is working for their client and not being motivated, or compensated, by a particular fund or investment.
Keep your eye on the ball. Through it all, be an active participant. Professional athletes are cautionary tales of what can happen if you rely too much on others to make major decisions about your business life. It’s no secret that athletes are often surrounded by people who may mean well (and others who may not), but aren’t experts in the various disciplines critical to sound financial management. The athletes we work with are the ones who realize that their high-profile, high-salary playing careers are just one aspect of the big picture, and that they need to focus on the future – and keep a hand in their financial dealings. That’s another way of saying, “Trust, but verify,” which is always a prudent approach, whether you’re an athlete or a businessperson – or both.
It’s never too early – or too late – to ensure you have the right team in place working in your best interests. The best team of advisors is a collaborative one, built on mutual trust, with all parties working hard to ensure that everybody is headed in the same direction – yours.