practice consultant BY
glenn g. kautt
A Winning Combination
Successful planning organizations almost always take a collaborative team
approach, building on the complementary skills of members.
You may know about Bill Hewlett and Dave Packardstarting a business in a garage, or about the Bill Gates-Paul Allen combination at Microsoft. Some might even know of Rich- ard DeVos and Jan Van Andel, the founders of Amway,
who originally started a flying school together, although neither
could fly. Their successes — and the success of many other businesses — happened in part because of the combination of individuals
with different skills.
This kind of teamwork actually isn’t rare. I’ve come across it at every successful organization of which I’ve been a part.
Consider teamwork in general. In 1776, Adam Smith’s magnum
opus, The Wealth of Nations, first evaluated the division of labor into
specialized jobs. He found such division created gains in productivity and ultimately more wealth. This
is teamwork at its most fundamental
— and important — level. Productivity
gains are available, but to get them you
need to employ people who do different things well. This is true whether
you are a boutique/lifestyle practice
with a few support staff or growing
Most entrepreneurs don’t start a
business with the goal of teaming up
with other individuals with complementary skills. When it happens, it’s
usually a happy accident, as it was for
the founder of Savant, the firm where I work. After several years of
doing everything himself, he hired a young analyst who had different
skills and interests, which complemented his own. A few years later,
in another happy accident, they hired the third member of the team,
who brought even more skills to the partnership.
rely on one another’s strengths. The collaborative team approach was powerful. This helped
develop a team-wide unique ability (using
personal coach Dan Sullivan’s term) to motivate and train advisors to attract new clients,
develop world-class service offerings, manage
a rapidly growing business and keep a focus on
clients and the firm’s vision.
They realized early on that they had different complementary skills, but not all of the ones
they needed. So, they hired more advisors and
additional professionals with capabilities in administration, accounting, compliance, technology, marketing, communications and
You don’t need to wait for a happy
accident in hiring or partnering before
your practice accelerates. It doesn’t
have to be an accident.
How do we figure out who fits in
what part of the team? First, we use
some well-known tests to help determine the strengths, interests and
abilities for all professionals. Then,
we continue to offer people different
tasks, projects and even jobs with different teams to see how they do.
The division of labor
into specialized jobs
creates gains in
wealth. This is
teamwork at its
and important level.
COLLABORA TIVE APPROACH
When I look at these professionals individually, none had the singular
ability to do everything necessary to manage or grow a financial services firm on a national scale. What they did have was a willingness to
DOING sEVERAL THINGs REALLy WELL
But what teams do we need? Every successful
business has to do several things really well.
These things include creating a business focus,
marketing, sales, purchasing and inventory
control, manufacturing, distribution, accounting and general administration.
At most firms, front-line advisors do marketing and selling, as well as what I think of as
January 2013 Financial Planning 27