Going Indy, Struggling with a name

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Jan 29, 2009 11:49 pm

I'm leaving ML and going with LPL. I know that my current clients will go with me regardless, but in this Madoff world, I'm wondering about future clients. Should I use my own name or just use LPL? The other issue is that I have found a couple of really nice rates on office leases that could hold about 5 advisors. Everyone in my office is starting to look around and I'm certain by the end of the year some other advisors would join me and share expenses. Under that scenario I think it would be most beneficial to have a generic type name, thoughts?

Jan 30, 2009 12:21 am

We use the LPL branding mainly because our four-man group couldn't decide on a name in less than a month.

But we also decided the LPL brand might soothe our clients a bit when changing firms.  Not bad to say that you're with the largest indy bd that has none of the bad investments that caused so many problems for the major wirehouses.  Remember, most of the brochures you'll send out will have LPL on them, so at least there's continuity.

In addition, it could help in recruiting other brokers to your firm.

Jan 30, 2009 1:20 am

I used a name that did not include my last name.  I love what I chose and get plenty of positive feedback on it.  Using your last name may imply that the firm dies with you.  It may also discourage other peer advisors from joining you under your umbrella.  It also necessitates a name change if someone else buys your practice (at least it would for me...I don't want someone else soiling my name!).  My problem with using LPL's brand is obvious...what if I decide later that Raymond James is a better place to affiliate with?


How about "No Bull Investment Management"?


(as catchy as that is...yes...I'm kidding)

Jan 30, 2009 1:27 am

we started out using our names in our title.  quickly realized this was a bad decision as we began trying to bring other advisors on board.  changed it after 2-3 months.

Jan 30, 2009 8:28 am
theironhorse:

we started out using our names in our title.  quickly realized this was a bad decision as we began trying to bring other advisors on board.  changed it after 2-3 months.




Charlie Merrill and Ed Lynch had the same problem.

Jan 30, 2009 8:51 am
LeavingML:

I'm leaving ML and going with LPL. I know that my current clients will go with me regardless, but in this Madoff world, I'm wondering about future clients. Should I use my own name or just use LPL? The other issue is that I have found a couple of really nice rates on office leases that could hold about 5 advisors. Everyone in my office is starting to look around and I'm certain by the end of the year some other advisors would join me and share expenses. Under that scenario I think it would be most beneficial to have a generic type name, thoughts?



You've gotten some feedback about the name, which is far less important to clients than most people want to make it (many of my clients didn't even ASK what the name of my new firm was when I made that change).



I'm going to toss in a quick comment about the office space, as you sound like you may be unintentionally contemplating a common mistake there.



Your two largest expenses - on an ongoing basis, after initial set up costs - are likely to be office rent and staffing costs. Control those two effectively and your chances for doing well financially increase dramatically.



Given that, your idea of renting (and paying for) space sufficient for 5 advisors you don't currently have, don't need, and may never want or need does not make good business sense. Better to get something that works for you and is affordable for the first year, does not require you to add more people in order to afford, and which requires no long term commitment. Then IF you realize you WANT to add 1 or 3 or 5 more people - in reality - you can look for appropriate space then.



Same thing goes for support staffing. Don't over-hire and over-spend right out of the shoot. By all means arrange for support, but do it conservatively until you know exactly what you need in your new environment.



Maintain flexibility. Control costs. Keep your eye on the ball, so you can focus on the important thing: moving your clients over, serving them well, and adding more clients. You don't need extra space for that, and you don't need 5 other advisors either, even if they may want/need you.



Otherwise your expenses will be so high you may end up netting even less than you currently do. Not a good formula.



Good luck.

Jan 30, 2009 7:58 pm

Thanks to everyone for their feedback.



Morphius, thanks for the input, but in this situation the cost of the 5 person office is the same as the two person offices I have been looking at. It's just a lucky break on my part that a new high end office complex is losing two tenants (plus they already have some space that has yet to be leased) and they are willing to cut me a great deal.

Jan 30, 2009 11:50 pm

I agree with Indyone and Morphius..


Name: I think the worst thing you can do is put "Smith Financial" or "Smith Advisors" I would use something besides your last names..


Office: Overhead will kill you in this business. who cares if you gross 30K a month if your expense are over 15K.. Especially starting out..Move later when you have a solid base.. no one cares about your office but you..
Jan 31, 2009 9:13 am
LeavingML:

Morphius, thanks for the input, but in this situation the cost of the 5 person office is the same as the two person offices I have been looking at. It's just a lucky break on my part that a new high end office complex is losing two tenants (plus they already have some space that has yet to be leased) and they are willing to cut me a great deal.



Glad to hear it. Hope the deal doesn't require a long term lease, because even a great deal compared to other two person offices can be an anchor if it represents more than you need or can afford.    

Jan 31, 2009 7:00 pm

I wouldn't try "Citi Morg"--that's what the new C/SB/MS is going to be called.