About 10 years ago, Roland Chan was managing a large team of financial advisors and insurance agents when tragedy struck and one of his staff suddenly died.
The late agent had not put in place a continuity or succession plan and it took Chan a year to have any of the value transferred to his estate. Sadly, by that time 50% of his assets had been eroded because clients had left after realising the lack of plan or other agents and advisors had moved in and poached them.
The death had a “cascading effect”. Not only did Chan’s firm, carriers and product manufacturer lose assets but the agent lost the value of his life’s work, and had left both his family and clients in the lurch.
From these sad events came a lightbulb moment for Chan. By the end of 2014 he had founded FindBob, an enterprise platform that helps encourage better transition behaviour and planning within both the insurance and financial services industry.
He explained: “Consumers who engaged with him for either financial or risk advice, they didn’t do it for the duration of his life but for the duration of theirs.”
The FindBob closed market place network helps agents and advisors discover opportunities for growth and transition in an anonymous way. That may be buying or selling a book of business or partnering up with other teams, which could then lead to succession. It can also help with executing NDAs, expression of interests and formal letters of intent.
Chan said: “For the enterprise, we give them the tools to help them manage their advisors but for the advisor, we provide a beautiful user experience that feels like a Match.com for advisors! That’s a crude analogy but in addition to that we provide them with an ecosystem of support.”
This can involve helping advisors by matching expertise, business philosophies and psychological traits, and then connecting them to third-party lenders.
Chan said succession issues are nothing new and that the industry has a massive problem with the average age across all lines of business being 59. He also pointed out that $2.5 trillion of assets are controlled by advisors in their 60s, while 40% of all life agents are expected to exit the industry in the next eight years and 400,000 P&C agents are set to leave the industry in the next year.
He said: “The two biggest problems for agents and advisors [when it comes to succession planning] are, firstly, that they find the process too daunting, which is ironic because they do this for a living. Secondly, they can’t find an adequate partner that has a similar business philosophy and will take care of life-long customers that have become friends.”