The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed how we work and live. A Broadridge Financial Solutions survey found that more than half of financial advisors were working remotely, as noted by Financial Planning in September 2020. At the time of the survey, advisors were rightfully hesitant to schedule a return date: “More than a quarter of advisors (27%) are either unsure about going back to an office or have no plan to do so.”1

Financial advisors are going to have to adjust to doing previously in-person endeavors virtually — and this includes succession planning.

How COVID-19 Has Changed How Firms View Succession Planning

The pandemic has caused financial advisory firms to completely rethink and reassess their business models and workforces. As organizational consultancy Korn Ferry noted, “Leader and Board roles have been amplified. … Some less tenured leaders haven’t yet been tested in a crisis until now.”2 This means that when succession planning in today’s world, RIA firms need to prioritize decisions.

Considerations When Succession Planning Virtually

Advisors might feel overwhelmed by the idea of succession planning remotely. We present six items to consider as you contemplate succession in 2021.

  1. Seek help with succession planning. As we have noted in a previous blog post on the pitfalls of internal succession, many founders and firm leaders end up putting succession planning on the backburner for more near-term priorities because of their unwillingness to let go or a fear of passing the reins to a new team. Support and guidance from someone outside of the firm can provide an objective eye and help assess the transition from all angles.
  2. Cast a wide net. One of the unforeseen opportunities that has come out of 2020 has been ability to tap into a nationwide, or even global, talent market.3 When looking for potential successors, do not limit yourself to just your physical location.
  3. Do not just focus on “the exit” — also remember to build your next-gen team. Next-gen advisors can help bring your practice into a new, modern and highly relevant era of financial advisory services. Now is the time to begin introducing changes to better position your firm as a viable competitor in the next-gen talent marketplace.
  4. Consider using leadership assessment tools. Data will be helpful in your succession planning decisions. Personality tests can help identify candidates’ strengths and weaknesses and give further insight about their leadership style, values, goals, stress factors and more.
  5. Make sure you budget enough time with each candidate. Technology can speed up the succession planning process but make sure you still spend enough time with each candidate during interviews. Even though it is being done behind a computer screen or phone, do not just lean on the data in your hiring decisions. Succession planning is still a deeply personal process. All members of the nomination team should spend sufficient time with the finalist candidates.
  6. Rely on references. References are even more important now given that hiring teams cannot do in-person interviews. References can give you deeper and further insight about each candidate.

Strengthen Your Remote Succession Planning

The Wealth Advisor Alliance can guide your financial advisory firm through succession planning during this uncertain time. We can help you create a succession plan with confidence at every step. Contact us today!

We help advisors establish and grow successful wealth management practices. To learn more about how we can help you amplify your life’s work, contact us at You can follow us on Twitter@theWAAlliance and on LinkedIn.

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1 Ryan W. Neal, “At Home and Not Going Back: Most Advisors Don’t Plan to Return to the Office Full Time.” Financial Planning, September 23, 2020.

2 “Executive Succession Through the Lens of COVID-19: Emerging Perspective.” Korn Ferry, March 30, 2020.

3 David Rice, “Succession Planning in the New Normal: HR’s Guide To Evolving the Workforce.” HR Exchange Network, October 15, 2020.


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