From Success To Succession

Reimagining Support For Financial Professionals

How Lincoln Financial is guiding advisors on the journey from accumulation to distribution

by John Dimonda

Mr. DiMonda is a Senior Vice President and Head of Lincoln Financial Advisors, Lincoln Financial Network.

I often get asked why financial professionals are so important and a story that I often share is that of two climbers, Sir Edmund Hilary, a New Zealand climber and George Mallory, an English mountaineer. Sir Edmund Hilary is credited for being the first mountaineer to successfully climb Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, standing 29,029 feet above sea level. He accomplished this goal in May of 1953.

However, some argue that an English mountaineer by the name of George Mallory reached the summit nearly 30 years before Hilary in 1924. So, why is there a debate, what did Hilary do that Mallory did not? And the answer is, Sir Edmund Hilary was able to not only successfully reach the summit but also climb safely all the way back down. Mallory’s body was found in 1999 on the other side of the mountain which causes some to believe that he reached the summit but died on his descent down.

Now, this story has been shared and recycled for years by financial professionals to drive home two key points:

1) financial planning is not just about accumulating wealth (ascending) but also distribution (the descent) component as well and

2) who you have to help and guide you makes a big difference. Sir Edmund Hilary used a sherpa that was experienced, knew the terrain, and how to navigate the climb.

In this light, we pride ourselves on being the best guide to financial professionals, providing them with the resources and tools to help them navigate their careers. Several years ago, Lincoln Financial Advisors did an extensive research project to identify the life cycle of a financial professional and the different needs they have during each phase of their career. Borne out of this research and countless conversations with our financial professionals, we developed a new program called AdvisorTrac.

AdvisorTrac is the embodiment of our commitment to providing critical resources and support in every stage of a financial professionals’ career: as financial professionals enter the business, look to grow and protect their practices throughout their career, and eventually transition their businesses efficiently and effectively to a new successor.

Each phase of one’s career offers different opportunities and needs which is why we broke the life cycle of a financial professional into three key phases – Grow, Protect and Succeed...

Grow, Protect & Succeed

We recognize that financial professionals, in all different stages of their career, face unique challenges. For example, if you are in the first five to ten years of your practice, some of your needs may focus on sourcing and prospecting new clients, having an effective client acquisition process, and desiring professional development opportunities. If you are in the middle stage of your career, you may think more about capacity and team development opportunities, how to maximize your resources, and expand your market. As you get closer to retirement, you are likely concerned about how to focus on key relationships, maximize the value of your practice and initiate your exit strategy.

Each phase of one’s career offers different opportunities and needs which is why we broke the life cycle of a financial professional into three key phases – Grow, Protect and Succeed.

When we established the AdvisorTrac program, we stuck to a few guiding principles:

  • First, we wanted to create clear expectations that we are working to solve big industry challenges and it would take the right resources and timeframe to solve for them.
  • Second, we wanted to get active financial professionals’ feedback throughout the entire process. To do so, we started out by interviewing financial professionals in each phase through a journey mapping exercise. We asked them to weigh in on what solutions we should build, we have them participate in the development of the tools and have multiple touch points before a new tool is released.
  • We want to run this program through an agile digital framework which historically has lived in the IT space, not financial services. We educated and trained our internal resources to deliver quick timely releases to make incremental improvements over time.

With just a year and a half into the build of this program, we have seen tremendous progress in the resources provided to financial professionals and the utilization of those tools by our financial professionals. We have created more than 45 new resources spanning all phases of our Grow, Protect and Succeed pillars, established three new strategic lending partners to help support practice buyouts and created the SuccessionLinc program to support both buyers and sellers throughout the succession planning process.

When George Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary set out to climb Mt. Everest – they were told it couldn’t be done. But their accomplishments transformed the sport of climbing – it infused a power of change and reinvention beyond what we might imagine at the starting point. That is how we see the future of the AdvisorTrac program – it has the potential to transform how we support our financial professionals through every step of their careers. We believe the initiatives that can transform a process, a business, or a relationship are the ones we should seek out.


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