Business-Building Strategies Successful Financial Advisors Share

Last Edited by: LPL Financial

Last Updated: August 31, 2023

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When it comes to practice management, financial advisors often want to know how they compare to their peers and what strategies they can implement right away to pursue even greater success. To answer these questions, LPL Financial studied 175 of our most successful advisors—the top 10% of earners—and discovered four common strategies:1

  • Operate like a CEO: Focus on the growth, design, and future of your organization.
  • Optimize your time: Be efficient and resilient by outsourcing or delegating.
  • Offer comprehensive advice: Provide holistic wealth services to your clients for every stage of their financial lives.
  • Build a values-based practice: Infuse your personal values into your business. 

Here, we’ll unpack what it means to adopt a CEO mindset and share insights from one of our top advisors to help you strengthen your business’s infrastructure, increase its sustainability and longevity, and fuel growth.

Work Smarter, Harder

The good news is you don’t have to double your working hours to double—or even triple—your revenue. On average, the top 10% of advisors in our study work less than 50 hours per week, yet their practice revenue is triple that of the 75 other advisors we studied who are not in the top 10% of earners. How do they do it? By building scale through delegating and managing an effective team.

One of the advisors we studied, Julia Carlson of Newport, Oregon-based Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, shared: “There was a time when I did everything myself, but found I needed help once I grew past about $60M in AUM. It was easy to keep everyone on my team aligned and communicate when it was less than five people total, but complexity arose by our sixth and seventh hires. At that point, I became a bottleneck to the team.” 

As Carlson and her team considered continued growth, her first thought was that everyone on the team, including herself, would have to work twice as hard to double the size of her practice. She knew that was unsustainable. But then she envisioned growing the practice 10 times larger. Why? According to Carlson, “Envisioning yourself exponentially larger helps you think differently about how you can really scale the business rather than just working harder.” 

Build to Last

Thinking like a CEO also means considering the sustainability and longevity of your business, particularly in regard to staffing. Can your current operating model support the growth you envision? What staffing roles might need filled in the short- and long-term? Which team members might be ready for more responsibilities? Who’s poised and ready to take over your duties when you retire?

If you’re like most advisors, you don’t have dedicated human resources support to help hire, coach, monitor, and evaluate your employees, which impedes your ability to delegate and reduces your capacity for strategic planning. Industrywide, 50% of advisors said they were not able to effectively delegate to staff due to undefined roles and inconsistent or undocumented processes.2 Without a formal check-in and evaluation process for your staff, expectations and reality may diverge from each other over time. 

In our study, 75% of the top advisors formally evaluated staffing levels, roles, and individual performance every six months. While this does not guarantee success, it helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team and processes, and identify problems sooner. 

They also take their own advice about preparing for their retirement to protect their legacy and the monetary value of their business. More than two-thirds of the top advisors in our study have their long-term successor identified, and they are nearly 40% more likely than all others to have done so. Not only have they identified this successor, but they’re also nearly 60% more likely to have legal agreements and a funding mechanism in place, and are about 25% more likely to have communicated this succession plan to their clients. 

Invest in Growth

As illustrated in the following chart, the top advisors we studied are putting more time and money into marketing plans, business development, training, and technology than their peers. 

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How LPL Can Help

It can feel daunting to try to do everything at once, so try focusing on just one of these strategies and incorporating it into your goal-setting process for next year. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. When you’re ready to take the next critical step and want LPL’s support, or if you just want to have a conversation about how we can help you pursue even greater success, we’re here for you. 

Consulting for Practice Success

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1 The top 10% of LPL advisors was determined in terms of Gross Dealer Concessions (GDC) taken from commission data in 2022.

2 Cerulli Associates, US Advisor Metrics 2022, exhibit 2.14

The views and opinions expressed by LPL Financial Advisor(s) may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance or success. Neither LPL Financial nor the LPL Financial Advisor can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

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