Guy Swain, founder of Raleigh, N.C.-based LifeTime Asset Management, understood the importance of a succession plan but he didn’t develop his own plan until he was in his 50s. The reason: A staffing change provided him with an opening to hire a new advisor he could groom as his successor. “I had no intention of retiring anytime soon, but I wanted someone to take some of the pressure off,” Swain recalls. “I also knew that planning for succession could be quite a process, so I wanted to start earlier rather than later.” As with any plan, Swain says some elements of his succession plan worked out well while others did not.
Lessons to follow:
1. Choose someone who complements your skills.
When he was considering who to hire, Swain figured he should look for someone with a complementary set of skills. “I think a lot of advisors end up looking for someone exactly like them because that’s what they’re comfortable with,” Swain says. “I think that’s a mistake. You want someone who can make up for your weak spots, and vice versa.” Swain asked likely candidates to take the Kolbe skill assessment test. He was impressed with a detail-oriented candidate named Matt who Swain felt would complement his own big-picture approach.