For many financial professionals, finding the right person to take over the business they built over a lifetime can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, thanks to years of planning and preparation, I have two competent partners who are prepared to gradually take over the reins of Secure Planning Strategies.
In the mid ‘90s, after 15 years as a financial professional, I was overwhelmed. The demands of growing the company, conducting ongoing marketing, staying on top of products and managing compliance had become too much. I needed someone to help run the business.
About that time, my husband’s nephew, Mehul Mistry, had graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in finance and had joined American Express. He enjoyed his work but recognized the challenge of finding clients and closing cases. After two years, I approached him with an offer to join my firm.
We both were excited but also shared concerns about working with family. Even though I knew him well as a family member, I didn’t know how he was as a worker. I didn’t go through the formal process of giving him a personality test to see if he was a good fit for the firm or for me. I am a typical type-A personality, determined and used to doing things the way I believe is best. I took a chance and hired him based on one thing — I knew I could trust him.
My bet paid off. Mehul showed he was honest, hardworking and willing to learn the business. He earned his CFP® designation, learned special needs planning and other areas of the business and has played a key role in the firm for the past 18 years.
Mehul has proven himself to be a competent planner. He is analytical, patient, thoughtful and kind to families with special needs children and our elderly clients. His strength, however, is in planning and maintaining the business.
By mid-2000, it was obvious we needed another financial professional to help grow the business and plan for the long-term future. That new person needed to be between my age and Mehul’s and have strengths that complemented his qualities.
In 2009, we changed our broker-dealer to Securities America. I worked with their recruiters to identify someone who was right for the position. I had very clear specifications. I wanted a female because I believe my clients are more at ease working with another woman. She had to have a book of business and needed to be entrepreneurial and possess a global vision and good planning skills. She also had to be willing to learn special needs planning. The recruiter warned me it could take a long time to find such a person. But once again, I got lucky.
I met Elinor Ho within a few weeks of that conversation with the recruiter. She had a book of business of her own. She was growth-oriented, organized, a good planner and a real people person. We both recognized we shared common backgrounds, thought processes and a desire to grow the business.
We continued to meet and converse for over a year, and in 2011, we merged our practices. We knew the merger would create challenges, and we may not always agree on everything. Be we agreed quitting was not an option. For the first two to three years, we operated as separate practices under Secure Planning Strategies before we officially merged.
Today, we are three partners in the firm. With the addition of these two capable, caring and competent professionals, who are also wonderful human beings, my succession plan is officially in place.