You carefully analyze your client’s needs to create an appropriately balanced portfolio for them.  You then diligently manage the portfolio by continuously monitoring corporate earnings, the markets and the economy.  But for most business owners, their largest single asset is outside your control. That asset is their company.

What is your responsibility for maximizing the value of your client’s company? After all, that is not why they hired you.  But the client did hire you to safeguard their retirement funds and protect their legacy.

So how do you help mitigate risk in and increase the value of your client’s company while staying within the bounds of why they hired you?  It starts with asking them questions which shows your ongoing concern for the client’s overall financial well-being.  Below is a sampling of questions you can ask which I have found are some key areas of concern for business owners.

For Family Businesses

  • Has the client and the family discussed their long-term plans for the business?
  • Is there a succession plan and is the designated successor fully prepared to take on the leadership role? If not, have they initiated a plan to prepare the designated successor?
  • Are all these plans documented and all key stakeholders understand their role in these plans?

The most difficult hurdle often is persuading clients to have the frank and reasonable conversations necessary to ensure the succession plans are relevant and acceptable to all.   As I’ve noted previously, I employ time-proven techniques which engender trust and openness for these emotionally laden conversations.  In addition, having the shared experience of being part of a family-business expedites establishment of a bond and trust with clients.

For Partnerships

  • When was the last time the client looked at their partnership agreements? If longer than 5 years, has the business grown or otherwise changed since then and does the partnership agreement encompass these changes?
  • Are there contingency plans should unexpected circumstances cause a partner’s sudden absence? If not, do they want their next partner to be the spouse or child of their current partner if something unexpected does happen?

Since partnerships often share some characteristics as family businesses the same care should be taken in having these conversations.

For the Sole Proprietor

  • Does the client have a business plan and standard operating procedures (SOPs) focused on maximizing the company’s value with an eye to supporting the client’s retirement?
  • Do they have realistic expectations of the company’s value based on a recent business valuation?
  • Do they have a marketing plan to maximize their brand which clearly defines goals, strategies and objectives? Does the plan include when to measure key benchmarks to ensure the marketing is on track or, if necessary, refine the marketing to ensure its success?

How we can work together to support your client!

Beyond reinforcing your relationship with the client, asking these questions offers some other practical benefits.  For example, inquiring about succession and contingency plans leads to discussions about how best to finance buy-sell agreements.  Within family businesses, succession planning discussions involve the children which offers you the opportunity to build a relationship with the next generation.

Having identified the key areas of concern, how do you then assist the client to maximize the value of their company?  I can help you and your clients make that happen.  Whether it be executive coaching or assisting with transition in a family business or developing a marketing plan, I work with business owners in identifying critical issues and then collaborate with them to develop plans they embrace as their own and thus implement successfully.  And, since I never charge for the initial consultation, you can feel comfortable in suggesting your clients meet with me so they can make the determination if we’re a good fit for their needs.

Call or email so we can set up a time to learn more about how I can help your clients.  Or, feel free to have your clients reach out to me directly so we can set up that initial consultation.  I can be reached by phone at 717.439.6254 or email at