Don’t Make a Move Without Considering These 5 Things
As a successful advisor, you may receive tempting transition opportunities. The chance to start anew, combined with a serious financial offer and other rewards, can be alluring. However, it’s important to pay attention to the details beneath the new firm’s recruiting veneer. Such a serious career move is worthy of deep thought so you can be certain that if you make this move, it’s the right one for you, your family and your clients.
- Will this move benefit your clients?
Your clients, and your ability to serve them well, is your primary consideration. In a firm transition, you are your clients’ number one advocate. Have you made certain that all your clients will have access to better services, products, technology and other resources? Your new firm should share your client-first approach.
- Will you receive the right support – during and after a move?
Don’t be satisfied to simply hear that the firm pursuing you has solid “support.” It is important to verify that you will have direct access to your future support team and that the group has ample bench strength.
Be sure you can meet with the transition team and that they leave you feeling comfortable. Have they offered a step-by-step description of the process? Does the team have a proven track record of successful transitions? How long will their support continue?
Have you met with the future colleagues you will rely on the most? Are you encouraged that this is a team whose assistance will fit the way your business is structured? Does the firm offer a regional sales desk? Have they worked with advisors who have a business model and products or services that are similar to yours? These team members are among the core group that can most help you succeed in your business, so it’s critical that you understand who has your back.
- Do the new managers share your vision?
You should feel confident in the new firm’s leadership, and especially in the person who manages the branch where you will spend so many hours. While some managers claim they will always support you, a deeper dive should reveal whether reality may be different.
How many managers have been in charge of your branch in the last decade? Has your would-be manager worked as an advisor? Does he or she cultivate a sense of teamwork and camaraderie?
Additionally, you should have face time with top leaders so you can better understand how the firm operates and where you fit. Do senior leaders instill a sense of confidence? Are they able to clearly articulate their vision for the firm? Don’t forget to ask how many layers of middle managers would be between you and the top.
- Is the firm’s comp plan overly complicated?
As an entrepreneur, you don’t just want stability for your business; you require it. A firm with a history of frequently “adjusting” its compensation plan should raise red flags in your mind. Ask your future colleagues how many times the payout grid and other pay elements—deferred compensation, growth awards, etc.—have been amended in the last five years.
Besides asking about consistency, have you learned how long the plan is? If printing it would require more paper or ink than your printer holds, it’s time to consider whether you want to rely on that plan—and the management team behind it—for future paychecks.
A comp plan should be direct, straightforward and easy to understand. We advise looking elsewhere for your next move if you need an attorney to decipher the plan for you.
- Is this firm financially fit?
Now it’s time to ask some tough questions about the future of the firm. Is the firm well-capitalized? Is this a firm with long-term stability, or does anything indicate shaky financial footing? Does the firm have an ownership structure that allows you to be an active participant? As an investment professional, you understand what it takes to be financially strong. Any firm you choose to partner with should provide the support for you to ultimately grow your business and meet your goals.
Considering a move to a new firm may be the biggest career decision you ever make and deserves plenty of reflection time. Before you sign anything, ensure you have checked enough due diligence boxes to feel certain you are making the right move for the right reasons. You owe it to yourself, your family and your clients to do so.
D.A. Davidson & Co. is a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser that does not provide tax or legal advice. Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable, but is not guaranteed and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are based on our interpretation of the data available to us at the time of the original article These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Copyright D.A. Davidson & Co., 2018. All rights reserved. Member SIPC.