Worldsource Wealth Management Insight: Succession Planning

Is succession planning a painful process?

Navigating the emotions

Succession planning can be an emotional endeavour. While it can be an exciting time, many advisors often feel some anxiety when they consider surrendering control of their practices. If you have guided your clients through retirement, you may have observed this psychological journey. What was your best advice to them? It is unlikely that you suggested that they leave retirement planning to the last minute!

Every business has a lifecycle and everyone eventually retires. Succession planning enables the smooth transition of a business to the next generation of advisors. Think about it: if your clients and team are unaware of your succession plan, they may already be wondering what your plans are. Having a well-planned, well-communicated strategy will help your clients feel reassured that their financial needs will be well taken care of even after you have retired, while your team members will have a clearer vision of their future in the business. In addition, having an intentional roadmap of your succession may reduce some of your own anxiety when it comes to leaving your business portfolio behind.


Advisors occasionally gloss over the fact that they will eventually have to exit the business and clients do not always remain loyal forever. The sooner you can confront these facts, the sooner you can shift your mindset to become proactive, for both your clients and your own futures.

Succession planning does not have to be a painful process if you can put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Give yourself time and ask hard questions: What does retirement look like for you? Do you have a family legacy in mind? Have you made plans or accommodations for illness? Do you want to sell your entire book of business or just a portion? What is your exit strategy – do you just want to get this done, or will you slowly transition out of your practice? Who will be the right fit to assume responsibility for your clients? Have you found a successor in your family or business?


A general rule of thumb is that you should start preparing your succession plan between 10 to 15 years in advance of your planned exit from the business. The rationale is that this should give you sufficient time to find the appropriate successor, ensure that clients are familiar and comfortable with the new advisor, and work out the appropriate terms of the deal to complete the transfer.

The reality is that the timing of your planned exit is personal and ideally something you can control. Age may be a factor in your succession planning (e.g. expected retirement at age 65), but an advisor in their 40’s may consider exiting the business to move into another industry. Just as you might advise your clients to consider estate planning to ensure smooth and tax-efficient transfer of wealth to the next generation, you should also give yourself sufficient time to plan for your succession. Doing so will allow for more options to develop the right plan for your business.


Succession planning should not be mistaken for “continuity” or “contingency” planning, which is a plan that is triggered in the event of your sudden death or disability. These emergency plans are extremely important and should be prioritized first if you have neither type of plan in place.


Advisor Business Life Cycle
  • Building presence and approach - in this phase you are building your presence, marketing, networking, educating and integrating into your desired or local community, and sharing some of the key foundations of wealth management. At this stage you are likely trying to be all things to all people, exploring what clients you have impact and success with, determining which personas resonante with your messaging and approach and developing your expertise and competencies.
  • Value proposition emerging - as you begin to gain confidence with what you know and what you can deliver on, and you become more aware of your clients’ needs and capacities, your value proposition emerges as you integrate it into your client experience, marketing and messaging.
  • Niche segments emerging - once you begin to understand who your client is and what impact you can have on them, it will draw to you the types of clients you want to serve. As these segments emerge, your processes, operations and client experience will begin to crystallize, reflecting the value of your offering.
  • Client experience articulated - both your internal and external client experience are easily articulated and framed as your niche segments and successes show up.

As you consider where you are in your business lifecycle, your goal is to optimize the value of the business and to identify an ideal time to formulate your succession timeline.


While succession planning is a strategic process, it is also a deeply reflective one. It may take some time to identify potential successors that align with your values, vision and approach. You may be considering the necessary skills and expertise that a successor will need to be successful, but you should also consider what skills would resonate best with the next generation of clients. How can the practice maintain and build upon the trust and relationships that you have established over the years?

Your successor should have a growth mindset that will continue to build your practice. Just because somebody is a great advisor does not mean that they will have the appropriate business owner mentality to take over your practice. What are the key traits that will ensure that they are a good culture fit for your current clients and team?

Another important consideration is the financing piece: can the other advisor afford the market value of your practice. You deserve to be compensated for your years of hard work and risks that you have taken to build your book of business.

A final note on successor candidates is an obvious one: choose a successor that expects to be in the business for many years. This may be a younger advisor than yourself, but not necessarily. The last thing you want is for your clients to have to get used to another new advisor within a few short years.


When thinking about how best to start your succession planning, there are different considerations you will need to think through:

  1. Examine the business analytics of your practice that will be the foundation of an evaluation. Consider the metrics of your book of business including assets under management, cash flow, operating expenses, growth and number of clients/households
  2. Analyze the current demographics of your client book. Typically, an advisor’s clients are within approximately 10 years their own age. For example, if an advisor is 55 years old, the majority of their clients will likely be between 45 to 65 years of age
  3. Make adjustments to enhance the longevity of your practice. After scrutinizing your business analytics and demographics, consider how making changes now might affect your valuation and the appeal of your practice. For example: if your practice primarily serves older clients, consider the potential benefits of attracting a younger generation of clients to create a more well-rounded offering and increase your valuation.

Whether you envision training a junior advisor who shares your values and commitment to client service, finding a like-minded peer to continue the legacy you’ve built, or exploring the option of selling your business to Worldsource as a strategic buyer, we are here to support you every step of the way.

The Worldsource Succession program defines four key stages: Continuity planning, succession planning, advisor matching and financing. We work with you through every stage ensuring you feel confident and assured that your legacy is being continued.


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

For support starting or evaluating your succession plan, contact us at


Worldsource Financial Management Inc. (“Worldsource”), Worldsource Securities Inc. (“WSI”) and IDC Worldsource Insurance Network Inc. (“IDCWIN”) are wholly owned indirect subsidiaries of the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec (“FCDQ”), which are part of the Desjardins Group.

The information provided here is intended for advisors and is based on various sources deemed reliable at the time of publication. It is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional or legal advice. The financial landscape is dynamic and subject to constant change, and therefore, the information presented may not be exhaustive, accurate, or up to date. Different advisors may have varying perspectives, strategies, or interpretations of the presented information. It is crucial for advisors to conduct their own research, analysis, and due diligence. Each client’s unique circumstances should be carefully considered, and tailored advice should be sought to address specific needs and objectives.


November 20, 2023