By JC Abusaid,  CEO/President as Featured in WealthManagement

I’ve always said that the investment advisory/financial planning profession is built on relationships and legacy. Failing to invest in your firm’s relationships with its employees as part of that strategy is a surefire way to fail.

For wealth management executives, mergers and acquisitions might feel like the only way to grow and compete in the years ahead. Indeed, with the high volume of advisors eyeballing succession planning or hoping to streamline resources to focus on clients, M&A hype is all around.

According to the National Association of Plan Advisors, the ECHELON Partners’ 2023 RIA M&A Deal Report cites, “while there was a modest year-over-year decline, annual deal volume in 2023 eclipsed the 300 mark first achieved in 2021, reaching the second-highest annual total recorded.”

If your firm wasn’t acquiring another, or being acquired itself, I’m sure you knew one that was. But I’d argue that for sustained growth, wealth management firms must double down on their company culture by adopting a people-first approach, finding a comfortable way to market their services and focusing on their craft.

Here’s what wealth management executives can do to stay competitive without giving into the M&A frenzy.

Lead With a People-First Approach

My perspective is that M&A is the easy route – a viable option for firms who have the capital, but care less about company culture and employee retention.

Perhaps that last sentence made you stop in your tracks. As you’ve been accessing your firm’s growth over the past year, has company culture fallen by the wayside? It wouldn’t be surprising, considering the dramatic changes the workforce has faced over the past five years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Early in my career, I was mentored by strong leaders to build a sustainable and resilient firm where employees come first, culture is key, hard work pays off and margins are important but not a short-term priority. In many ways, mentorship has made all the difference in the success of my firm and other people-first firms we know and respect.

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