Worldsource Wealth Management Insight: Effective Team Structures

How do successful advisors structure their practices to create capacity and drive growth?

Being busy doesn’t mean that you are being effective. Successful advisory practices all have one thing in common: an organized team that is structured in an optimal way.

By thoughtfully adding to your team’s skillsets and capabilities, you will be able to provide services that your clients are looking for now, while enhancing your ability to adapt to the differing needs of the next generation of clients as well.

Managing a team requires effort, but it may lead to increased productivity the more you invest time in it. A team can be informal, such as two advisors that run their practices separately but help cover for each other when one is away. These may refer clients to each other if there is a better fit, jointly prospect for business together or simply share best practices.

However, financial advisory teams are increasingly becoming more structured and robust with a variety of team members to handle more sophisticated clients. Building an effective team structure involves a client-centric approach, and includes various aspects to create cohesion and efficiency. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Define the business’s goals and objectives. What is the purpose of your financial advisory practice? Do you have specific niche markets that you enjoy working with such as professional women, police officers, college professors, or real estate developers? Start by clearly defining the purpose of your practice and the services that you want to provide to your target client demographic. What are the financial goals that you will aim to achieve for these clients? Are there unique services you can provide your clients that will make you more referable to other similar prospects?
  2. Identify the key roles and skills needed. Often a financial advisory practice will be structured vertically with a primary, lead or senior advisor who is responsible for client acquisition, portfolio management/reviews and overall relationship management. Depending on the size of the practice, the complexity of the services offered may require various specialists to complement the lead advisor’s skillset. This could include associate/junior advisors, financial planners (or paraplanners), client service managers, administrative or marketing assistants, investment analysts, etc. These roles will have unique skills and responsibilities, yet must all work together cohesively to achieve your business goals.

    Good teammates can be very difficult to find. Consider strategic recruiting that involves diversifying the skills within your team in advance. Be forward looking in your hiring so that you do not hit your capacity limits, but are always anticipating the growing needs of your practice. Technical skills are important, but look for candidates that also align with the team’s culture and values.

    Each role should be clearly defined, but the responsibilities may evolve as the practice does. Consideration may be given towards compensation incentives and investing for career development of the team. Although employees will not own a piece of the business like the lead (and possible associate) advisors do, they could be compensated alongside the success of the practice as if they did own a part of the business. This will create loyalty with team members as they develop their skills and become increasingly more valuable to the practice.

Key roles and skills

Another, less common, team structure the horizontal team structure where there are multiple lead advisors that focus on specific areas. This might be appropriate for example in a multi-generational practice where each partner has specialized skills and will co-lead the relationships with clients. For example, a firm could have three lead advisors: one focused on estate and insurance planning, another on retirement planning and the third on the next generation of clients. Supporting staff would likely be attached specifically to each of the three lead advisors, but in certain situations where there are shared interests (client appreciation events or marketing) there may be collaboration.

  1. Implement efficient processes and technology. Make technology your friend by incorporating it to streamline processes, manage client data and facilitate communication. This could include CRM systems, Conquest for investment planning, online booking tools and AdvisorStream for digital marketing.

    A great way to manage smaller clients is to utilize a hybrid approach such as iQ by Worldsource, which allows you to personally oversee the relationship management, but use technology for the onboarding and day to day servicing.
  2. Clearly define your communication channels. Encourage open and collaborative communication with your team members and with clients. Schedule regular team meetings with a defined schedule, or ad-hoc informal team huddles to keep everyone aligned and informed about upcoming projects, goals and challenges.

    Establish which of your team will communicate what and when to clients to ensure consistency in your messaging and professional client service.
  3. Determine what metrics you will measure and review. Decide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as AUA, insurance revenue, new client acquisition, or average number of accounts per household for the team and for individual roles. Review these metrics regularly to assess progress and identify areas of improvement.

    To help you track this information, Worldsource has launched Qlik, a business analytics tool to help manage your business. This will support the segmentation of clients and help incorporate your client service model appropriately to drive efficiencies.

The most effective team structures are client-centric and prioritize clear communication between team members and clients. Each team member has unique strengths that should be leveraged and nurtured to improve team loyalty and productivity. An advisory practice that is prepared to adjust and adapt as the business changes will make room for adding new roles, shifting responsibilities and investing in new technologies. As a leader, make it a priority to continually develop your skills in management, communication and strategic planning so that you may effectively guide and inspire your team for continued success.


Worldsource is committed to strategic practice management and helping you take your practice to the next level.

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Worldsource Wealth Management (WWM) is a fully integrated wealth management company focused on supporting Financial Advisors and building financial prosperity for Canadians. WWM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the leading financial cooperative in North America with over 100 years of dedication to the people and communities they serve. WWM is comprised of: Worldsource Financial Management Inc. (WFM) and Worldsource Securities Inc. (WSI), which are Dealer Members regulated by the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) and Members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), as well as IDC Worldsource Insurance Network Inc. (IDC WIN), one of Canada’s largest life insurance managing general agencies.


May 24, 2024