Why I Left That Firm: Brokers Use Videos to Explain Move to Clients
“Over the past several years, it has become apparent that to preserve our way of doing business we needed a fresh start with a firm whose principals and core values are aligned with ours and yours,” Raymond James & Associates broker Marc Hallick says near the start of a two-minute video prominently displayed on several pages of his team’s new website.
Hallick led his team to the firm’s employee channel in The Villages, Fla. last month after more than 13 years with Wells Fargo Advisors’ private client group. His video assures viewers that he, three fellow advisors and four client associates, “Nancy, Dodie, Teresa and Marilyn,” made the move to help clients’ “transition” to a firm with a “client-centric culture based on integrity, mutual trust, conservatism and independence” without further reference to any problems left behind.
Craig Robson, who formed an independent RIA last week after more than two decades with Merrill Lynch in Atlanta, similarly emailed his former clients with a link to a short, relatively folksy video posted on his new firm’s website. It addresses his five-member team’s reasons for leaving, and quickly pivots to the value his new venture will bring to customers.“This decision has resulted in our entire team—myself, Carmen, Emily, Kevin and Nathan— discontinuing our employment at Bank of America. So why are we doing this,” Robson begins. “While I have enjoyed my experiences at Merrill Lynch over the past 25 years, I realized our clients’ needs are no longer best served within a large money center banking institution.”
Both videos end with a shout-out to former clients to keep their eyes peeled for packages of account-transfer paperwork.
Brokers contending with firm-transition challenges—even when client-contact, as in these cases, is eased because the moves are done within the confines of The Protocol for Broker Recruiting—are venturing more aggressively into videos, according to some consultants.
“It’s a great way to make an emotional connection and explain your story,” said Gordy Abel, chief marketing officer at Dynasty Financial Partners, which worked with Robson on the establishment of his new firm, Regent Peak Wealth Advisors. “It’s great to have the principal of the new firm be able to connect quickly, when they can’t get in front of everybody personally.”
The challenge, he warned, is to avoid being too explanatory or defensive about the reasons for leaving the old firm, even as the elephant in the room is acknowledged, while concentrating on the go-forward advantages of the move.
Hallick, who ranked 31st in Forbes list of Best Florida Advisors in 2018 with team-custodied assets of $343 million but fell off its 2019 list, also used the video to confront the issue of how customers’ trust and confidence may be affected by an unexpected move.
“You may be wondering why we have not mentioned this to you before. Due to an existing agreement between many firms in our industry, we were not legally permitted to disclose this transition to the public,” he says, pointing a finger at the Protocol rules.
“We apologize for any shock or surprise this may have caused, especially since this is not our typical method of communicating,” Hallick continues. “Now we are freely able to communicate this transition as well as the additional resources and advantages that we can bring to bear.”
Hallick did not return requests for comment on how account transfers are progressing, and on what help Raymond James may have provided in preparing the video.
Video production costs are low, and can often be done at an advisors’ desk by a local photographer who has developed videography skills, Abel said.
Robson, who has a focus on helping corporate executives manage their stock plans, began his registered representative career in 1994 with Merrill and his team was generating about $3.5 million in annual revenue for the firm on $450 million of client assets, a Dynasty spokeswoman said.
Hallick, whose website says his team focuses on healthcare professionals along with the standard client list of business owners, families and retirees, began his career with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in 2003 and joined Wells Fargo in 2005. He registered with Raymond James on April 2, according to his BrokerCheck record.