The Difficult Dynamics of Naming a New Partner

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

My partner and I have worked together for a long time. We are polar opposites, but it is like a marriage. We can finish each other’s sentences, we know what we like and what drives us crazy about one another, and we respect each other deeply.

We want to name a third partner, one of our existing financial advisors. We have talked with her about the mechanics of ownership and from a quantitative perspective we are in alignment. But I read your article recently about an advisory firm dealing with someone who didn’t get their culture. We have that problem with her.

She complains about the fact that we are like a married couple. She thinks it diminishes the professionalism of our firm and that it paints us as old guys who are not terribly smart. I am relaying what she has said to us, not what I believe to be true. But I am starting to think if we want her to join as a partner we have to change and after 17 years of working together I don’t know if this is possible.