Build a Collaborative Advisory Team

March 30, 2016 02:21 AM

How to maximize your succession planning efforts

Succession planning is not a do-it-yourself task. You need a professional and collaborative team of advisers to keep you on track. 


“A full team of advisers working together will come up with a much better strategy than any one adviser alone could,” says Johnne Syverson, a family business consultant with Transition Point Business Advisors in West Des Moines, Iowa. 

A comprehensive succession planning team can include a family business consultant, an accountant, an attorney, an insurance agent, a financial planner, a conflict-resolution specialist or a combination of those roles. You will also need a quarterback for your advisory team, usually from one of those professional categories, to ensure everyone stays informed, Syverson notes. 

Grant Permission. “Advisers communicate, and they may even cooperate, but they rarely collaborate,” Syverson says. This is because you have not asked them to do so. “You must give them permission,” he says. “Many advisers don’t know how to collaborate and fear losing respect, control or revenue in the process.”

Instruct your quarterback to instill professional collaboration protocols, Syverson advises, such as requiring that communication be responsive and proactive; advisers work out their differences in private; and all advisers be sensitive to their colleagues’ individual interests. 

“You want a team characterized by trust, mutual respect, consensus before action and healthy conflict resolution,” he says. 

When building your team, do a realistic assessment of your needs, suggests Liza Moore, an attorney with Foster Swift Collins & Smith in Lansing, Mich. 

“A lot of people have gone to the attorney in their hometown,” Moore says. “But as your farm gets larger, you may have more sophisticated issues that they can’t accommodate.”

Interview your advisers before hiring them to ensure they have the skills, capacity and focus to advise your farm, she says.

Why Ask Your Experts To Join Forces?

A team of collaborative farm advisers will save you money and guarantee better service during the succession planning process. Family business consultant Johnne Syverson and attorney Liza Moore highlight the key benefits of advisers who work together. 

  • A diverse group of experts will create a comprehensive plan tailored to your operation.
  • You’ll have peace of mind about decisions.
  • A team approach removes you from the middle of a battle of adviser egos.
  • Collaborative advisers are more efficient with their time, which lowers your fees.
  • You’ll receive unified and pre-vetted advice, so you won’t have conflicting strategies. 
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