As the financial planning profession matures, there is a growing interest in the opportunities to buy and sell financial planning practices, both for investors, for existing firms looking to grow, and for new planners looking to enter the business. However, industry statistics suggest that relatively few deals are happening (and are generally only for larger firms), although it’s not clear whether the lack of small firm activity is because the transactions are simply underreported, because financial planning firm owners aren’t actually exiting as quickly as the demographics would suggest, or perhaps because most firms just really aren’t valuable enough to sell in the first place.
Nonetheless, for many newer financial planners, who may find the thought of building a client base to be daunting, there is growing interest in acquiring an entry path to a financial planning firm, rather than building one from scratch. Unfortunately, though, the reality is that the opportunity may not quite be all it appears, given the poor economics for many financial planning firms means the new planner is likely buying a job but not a business, the limited capital that many new planners have to acquire a firm, and the outright challenges of diving full steam into both the management of a financial planning business and clients with little experience. While this may not entirely dissuade prospective new planners from buying their way into a firm, the fact remains that the approach merits a great deal of caution as well.