How to Secretly Retire

How to Retire Secretly | Erin Botsford - The Advisor Authority
February 21st, 2022

If you’ve ever attended one of my training webinars, read an article of mine, or heard me speak, you know I’m not a fan of out-of-office messages.

Why? In my 31 years of working with clients, I learned clients want to think you are NEVER out of the office; instead, they want to believe you are looking at their portfolio 24/7.

How did I learn that? Early in my career I used out of office messages. Over time, I received a number of snarky remarks like: “Glad to know you’re going on vacation on MY money,” or “Must be nice to be able to take all of those fancy vacations.”

My clients never knew I had worked seven days a week for the first seven years of my career and never took a day off. Most of them didn’t realize or care that my husband flew for the airlines so, in fact, we flew free. We traveled on a budget for the better part of my career.

The bottom line is I just got tired of hearing those remarks and decided to do something about it. I empowered my team to take over while I was out of the office.

So, what about you?

What do you hope to gain by turning on your “Out of Office” autoresponder?

I realize if you’re a solo practitioner and you meet with all of your clients, you manage all of your accounts, and you run the day-to-day business, you might feel a little perplexed. After all, If your name’s on the door, it’s all up to you, right?

Or what if you have a team? Your clients hired YOU. They depend on YOU for their advice; it’s YOU they trust.

So how do you go on vacation? How do you get a break?

That’s what we’re going to discuss.

Here’s the truth: Regardless of whether you are a solo practitioner or have a big team, if you use an out-of-office message that indicates you’re on vacation for a few days or a few weeks, there’s a good chance your clients may start to wonder who’s in charge while you’re gone? They may think, “What if I have an emergency? What if something happens and I need you? What happens to my money if something goes wrong in the markets?”

While an out-of-office reply may seem simple and innocuous, it isn’t always well received, especially if you’re the only contact your clients have in your business. My question for you is, why create anxiety for your clients? Why give them any reason to think you are not sitting at your desk, looking at their portfolio?

When I was running my business, I never used the automated reply. I took plenty of vacations but my clients never knew it. My emails were checked every hour and clients were serviced by members of my team. If clients asked to speak with me, my team was instructed to let them know I was not available. Keep in mind, that statement served me well. I instructed my team members to NEVER lie… but it was true. I was not available. I chose not to be available. What I learned along the way is that all clients really want is to have their issues resolved; they truly don’t care who on your team does it.

When you build your service model, you don’t have to be involved in the day-to-day operations of your business. Your assistant can be tasked with answering your emails and returning client calls. Licensed members of your team can meet with and advise your clients, assuring you everything is running smoothly.

What’s Your Role in Your Business?

As I grew my firm, eventually I only had one role: prospecting for new business and closing qualified prospects to become clients of my firm. That was it.

In my initial meeting with prospects, I made it clear that nobody got me. And I meant nobody. I explained to prospects they were buying the philosophy of my firm, not me. I was able to articulate why it was in my clients’ best interest to not solely depend on me. I wanted them to know that if anything happened to me – if I got hit by a bus or a Mack truck, their money was safe; their relationship was secure because they signed on to become clients of my firm, not me.

Here’s how I was able to “secretly” retire…

I sold my business in October, 2017. Because none of my clients expected to meet with me for their review meetings, the financial transaction was barely a blip on the screen. Why? Because nothing changed for the clients. They were so used to meeting with various members of my team, they didn’t notice my departure.

Four years later, at the end of 2021, my team asked if they could throw me a retirement party. I thought it was a marvelous idea and a great way to celebrate the end of COVID.

It was a wonderful party, attended by hundreds of clients; the one thing that made my heart sing was hearing from clients how happy they were that they had chosen to work with my firm. Each of them took the time to tell me how grateful they were for the sound advice being given to them by the advisors I had hand selected to work with them.

For the firm who acquired my company, it was a total win. All of the money that had been on the books when I sold was still at the firm. Not one client had moved their money or transferred out. In the clients’ minds, it was business as usual.

Can the same be said about you and your business?

The question you should answer is this: “If you were unable to service your clients, for whatever reason, or if you needed to step away for an extended period of time, is your business positioned to continue to function and grow without you?

Maybe it’s easier to picture that scenario if you apply it to something like our recent pandemic…

If you had to take time off to care for yourself or for a loved one, how long would your business survive? How long could you be gone?

Two weeks? A month? Six months?

I built my business to thrive with or without my day-to-day involvement.

How did I do that?

I chose to have the mindset of a business owner.

I hired people and trained them to run my company. I built systems and processes that took care of the growth, servicing, and management of every part of my business.
If you want your business to run on autopilot and grow without your day-to-day involvement, you need people, systems, and processes to make it happen.

That’s what I teach in my Elite Advisor Success System. Everything you need to prospect for high net worth clients, how to close them in your first meeting, how to identify, hire and train your team, how replicate your efforts, and systematize everything so you can focus on what you love while everything else runs in the background — it’s all in there.

If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, serve more clients, make more money, and have more freedom, I invite you to learn more about the Elite Advisor program today!


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