Continuity Takes Precedence Over Succession

Independent broker/dealer Securities America has designated October “Continuity Planning Month” to address the gap in understanding of the difference between continuity plans and succession plans.


Securities America, in La Vista, Nebraska, is providing educational webcasts, agreement templates, video and other resources to help advisers stop procrastinating and file a written plan.

“Advisers who lump continuity planning into succession planning miss the point: the risk of dying today versus the relative certainty of retiring tomorrow,” said Roger Verboon, a senior practice management consultant at Securities America who coaches advisers about continuity planning.

The firm is also helping advisers match up and create mutual continuity agreements. With only 73 continuity plans on file (out of 1,600 advisers, or 4.5%), the company is asking advisers to take the Continuity Challenge in October and emphasizing that request with a calling campaign. Advisers who accept the challenge will commit this month to having a continuity plan on file with the Securities America home office by the end of the year. Advisers who complete the challenge will be allowed to place a continuity verification seal on their website to assure clients and prospects that their investment accounts will be taken care of if the adviser suddenly dies or becomes incapacitated.



“Advisers are stewards who direct, guide and care for the financial well-being of their clients,” said Kirk Hulett, executive vice president of strategy and practice management at Securities America. “In focusing their attention and expertise on clients, advisers may overlook their important role as stewards for their family and their employees, whose wellbeing is also dependent on the adviser. A continuity plan protects all the people under an adviser’s stewardship: family, employees and clients.”
While succession planning has been a hot topic in the industry for some time, Securities America is emphasizing the continuity aspect as the most critical.

“Like a succession plan, a continuity plan lays out what you want to happen to your practice when you are no longer running it,” Hulett said. “Unlike a succession plan, a continuity plan is implemented immediately, rather than over a period of months or years due to an unexpected disruption in your ability to work. Also, a succession plan typically assumes you will not return to run the practice; whereas a continuity plan must address the possibility that you will.”

Securities America also distinguishes continuity planning from disaster recover planning. The adviser is still available to make decisions in a disaster, leading staff and communicating with clients, Hulett pointed out. But a continuity plan is needed to help get staff, family and clients through a period when the adviser is unable to manage the business because of illness, injury or death. “So when you look at the planning continuum for financial practices, the continuity plan is really the most critical,” he said. “The disaster and succession plans can be built outward from the continuity starting point. That’s why we’ve focused our attention this month on encouraging advisers to address continuity first.”