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Michael Kitces #FASuccess Podcast: How to Make a Partnership Work with Tanya Rapacz

Partnership Resource Co-founder Tanya Rapacz walks Michael Kitces through the ups and downs of a successful partnership, as well as how to write a ”Partnership Constitution“ that formally spells out for all partners how decisions will be made collectively.

Welcome, everyone! Welcome to the 77th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Tanya Rapacz. Tanya is the co-founder of the Partnership Resource, a consulting firm that works with financial advisors partnerships to ensure that the partnership itself actually works, from formation to the ongoing operation of the business to succession planning.

What’s unique about Tanya, though, is that before she was trained in dispute resolution and mediation, she was a financial advisor herself, who both worked successfully in a partnership, and went through a partnership merger that didn’t work out, as she experienced first-hand what happens when the multiple partners of a partnership want to take the business in opposite directions.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about what it takes for a successful partnership to work—why it’s necessary to treat a business partnership like a marriage, anticipating that some level of conflict is inevitable, and the key to long-term success is your ability to align your goals and work through the conflict together; why multi-advisor partnerships with three to five partners tend to be the unhappiest, because of those challenging interpersonal partnership dynamics when the number of partners increases; how the largest advisory firms often have the most stable partnerships simply because they created governance structures that facilitate the multi-partner, decision-making process; and why any partnership may benefit from taking the time to create an agreement on how the partnership will make decisions in order to reduce their level of conflict.

We also talk about Tanya’s own process working with partners, that starts with a series of personality assessment profiles to help current or future partners understand how to better communicate with each other, and the driving forces that motivate each other. The benefits of having a facilitator to help new partners talk through how key decisions will be made as partners and avoid reaching “easy agreements” that gloss over the challenging decisions like “which financial planning software will we use” which can tear a new financial advisor partnership apart, and how Tanya’s partnership process culminates in an actual “Partnership Constitution” document, that formally spells out for all the partners how decisions will be made collectively going forward.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Tanya talks about how she’s now beginning to scale up her “partnership compatibility reports” and assessment process with RIA Match services, in addition to doing more facilitation with advisors directly as more and more advisory firms begin to form partnerships and merge to gain economies of scale in today’s competitive environment.

So whether you’re interested in learning more about how to manage relationship dynamics while working in a partnership, how personality assessments can help partners communicate better, or learning how you can form your own “Partnership Constitution” document to formalize decision-making, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!

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