This kind of teamwork actually isn't rare. I've come across it at every successful organization of which I've been a part.
Consider teamwork in general. In 1776, Adam Smith's magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations, first evaluated the division of labor into specialized jobs. He found such division created gains in productivity and ultimately more wealth. This is teamwork at its most fundamental - and important - level. Productivity gains are available, but to get them you need to employ people who do different things well. This is true whether you are a boutique/lifestyle practice with a few support staff or growing your organization.
Most entrepreneurs don't start a business with the goal of teaming up with other individuals with complementary skills. When it happens, it's usually a happy accident, as it was for the founder of Savant, the firm where I work. After several years of doing everything himself, he hired a young analyst who had different skills and interests, which complemented his own. A few years later, in another happy accident, they hired the third member of the team, who brought even more skills to the partnership.
When I look at these professionals individually, none had the singular ability to do everything necessary to manage or grow a financial services firm on a national scale. What they did have was a willingness to rely on one another's strengths. The collaborative team approach was powerful. This helped develop a team-wide unique ability (using personal coach Dan Sullivan's term) to motivate and train advisors to attract new clients, develop world-class service offerings, manage a rapidly growing business and keep a focus on clients and the firm's vision.
They realized early on that they had different complementary skills, but not all of the ones they needed. So, they hired more advisors and additional professionals with capabilities in administration, accounting, compliance, technology, marketing, communications and human resources.
You don't need to wait for a happy accident in hiring or partnering before your practice accelerates. It doesn't have to be an accident.
How do we figure out who fits in what part of the team? First, we use some well-known tests to help determine the strengths, interests and abilities for all professionals. Then, we continue to offer people different tasks, projects and even jobs with different teams to see how they do.
DOING SEVERAL THINGS REALLY WELL
But what teams do we need? Every successful business has to do several things really well. These things include creating a business focus, marketing, sales, purchasing and inventory control, manufacturing, distribution, accounting and general administration.
At most firms, front-line advisors do marketing and selling, as well as what I think of as inventory control, manufacturing and distribution. Our firm changed that by creating teams with specialized skills to support advisors. Think of it as a pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit of a plane, aided by mechanics, flight attendants, dispatchers, air traffic controllers, etc. Everyone works to ensure the pilot can move the plane safely from point A to point B. Start thinking how to combine people in your firm into more powerful teams to support client-facing activities.
Many firms ignore formal marketing teams, but to grow rapidly you need one. Our firm has three full-time professionals, along with three other people part-time, plus outside public relations and graphics firms. Think of combining skills inside and outside the firm.
Purchasing and inventory control is advisors meeting with clients and collecting and storing financial and personal information. At our firm, collecting and storing data is a primary responsibility of the co-advisor, if one is assigned. The actual technology for storing and manipulating data is handled by yet another team of IT professionals. This is the division of labor into different parts, enhancing the efficiency of the all-important client-facing activities.
BUILDING THE TEAM
Manufacturing is the analysis of information and development of recommendations and action plans, traditionally the venue of the advisor. This is a great area to create a powerful team. In our firm, five professionals work full-time doing all the planning work, including meeting with clients if the advisor wants.