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Building an Effective Financial Advisor Team Structure


Whether you work for a larger advisory firm or run your own financial planning business, good team management can be critical to your success. A strong financial advisor team structure can increase productivity and allow the business to run more efficiently while ensuring that client needs are being met. There’s more than one way to approach team building, depending on your business objectives and goals.

SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform offers financial advisors services like client lead generation, automated marketing and more. Learn about SmartAsset AMP today.

Benefits of Having the Proper Financial Advisor Team Structure

Implementing team structures can yield numerous advantages to advisory firms, regardless of size or the number of clients they serve. Here are some of the best reasons to adopt team structures in your firm.

  • Increased productivity and revenues:  Working in teams can help boost productivity when team members are able to focus on their strengths and delegate or outsource lower-priority tasks. When an advisor is able to devote a larger share of their day to serving existing clients or new client outreach, not only can they get more done, but their efforts may lead to an uptick in revenue.
  • Client retention: Balancing the needs of existing clients with recruiting new prospects can be easier to do when there’s a solid team structure in place. Teams can also ensure that all of a client’s needs are being met in one place so that they’re less tempted to seek financial advice elsewhere. For example, a team that includes a certified financial planner and a certified estate planner may be better equipped to offer comprehensive wealth and legacy planning services. That can help to ensure client retention and potentially lead to more referrals from existing clients.
  • Employee retention and future planning: It’s important to take care of your team so that they want to keep producing for you. The right team structure can’t help but make that a reality. They also may be less likely to consider other job opportunities elsewhere if there’s a clear path for moving forward ahead of them. That can also make succession planning easier for the firm’s owners if there are already strong candidates in-house who can take the reins when it’s time for the current leadership to step down.

Once you have the right team structure then you may have to time to then focus on bringing in clients to grow your firm. Are you looking to expand the marketing of your financial advisor practice? Try SmartAsset AMP, our holistic client prospecting and marketing automation platform.

Types of Financial Advisor Team Structures

Advisory firms can approach team structures differently, depending on size and needs. There are three primary ways to organize team structures within your firm.

  1. Vertical teams: A vertical team structure utilizes a top-down approach, with a senior advisor at the top directing other members of the team. In this type of arrangement, the advisor’s primary focus is on meeting client needs and managing assets. Other members of the team, which usually includes associate advisors and administrative staff, provide support to the lead and handle lesser tasks that have been delegated to them.
  2. Horizontal teams: In a horizontal team structure, each advisor brings a specific skill set to the table and is responsible for certain tasks. Advisors work together to complement one another and manage client relationships while delegating lower-priority tasks to support staff.
  3. Hybrid teams: Hybrid teams combine features of vertical and horizontal team structures. So, there may be one advisor who assumes a lead role, with one or more associate advisors heading up teams underneath them. Each of those teams can focus on a different aspect of the client relationship and include one or more supporting staff members.

Tips for Building a Financial Advisor Team

financial advisor team structure

When selecting a team structure, the most important thing to consider is what’s going to work best for your firm. You may be tempted to choose a particular structure because you’ve seen your main competitor employ it effectively, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to produce the same results for you. Here are the best tips to keep in mind.

  • Consider your firm’s organization: How your company is organized can influence the type of team structure you choose. If you own your own firm, for example, then a top-down approach headed by you as the senior advisor may be a natural choice. On the other hand, if you’re one of several partners in the business, then you may prefer to structure your team horizontally so that you’re on equal ground.
  • Define key roles: Filling in the blanks for your firm’s team structure becomes easier when you understand who is responsible for what. Taking time to articulate the key roles within the firm and the responsibilities that accompany each of them is an important preliminary step for choosing a team structure.
  • Outline team activities: When forming a team, one of the most important questions to ask centers on what it’s meant to do. Those activities should directly relate to your business goals and what you need to do to meet the needs of your clients. Clearly defining the team’s activities can help you determine which skills are most valuable for team members to have.
  • Choose team members: If you know what roles your team will include, the next step is deciding who should hold them. This is where it’s helpful to have a solid understanding of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses so that you’re not assigning them duties that are a mismatch for their skill set.
  • Build team culture: Team culture can dictate how members communicate with one another and it also creates a standard of behavior that everyone is expected to adhere to. A good team culture is one which in team members feel comfortable working together and are encouraged to offer feedback or raise concerns about the way the team operates. Your team culture should also include systems for holding members accountable for tasks that are assigned to them. Otherwise, it may be all too easy for things to slip through the cracks, which can hurt outcomes.
  • Strengthen the team: Once you’ve chosen a structure and put your team together, it’s important to invest in training and development. Doing so can ensure that your team members are keeping pace with industry changes and trends. It’s also a chance for them to learn new skills or better develop the ones they already have, which can lead to a stronger team.

The more you grow, the more time you’ll need to spend time growing and improving your team. This may make it difficult to do a lot of activities, such as marketing, on your own. SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform (AMP) offers financial advisors services like client lead generation, automated marketing and more. Learn about SmartAsset AMP today.

Bottom Line

financial advisor team structure

Incorporating team structures into your advisory business may take some getting used to but the end result can be well worth the time it takes to set them up. Keep in mind that you may not get it right the first time, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent to using teams. It may take some experimenting to find the right financial advisor team structure for your needs.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • As you spend more time with your team, you may have less time for marketing. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is a holistic marketing service financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Another way to grow your client base is by expanding your radius. Clients are increasingly willing to work with financial advisors remotely. Consider broadening your search and working with high-net-worth investors who are comfortable connecting online, rather than in person.

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