What is the consensus of the group regarding the politics of office space in brokerages? Is it me, or is an inordinate amount of time and energy spent on office location and size?
Have any of the more successful brokers you've worked with broken with this tradition, by leading the pack and showing others that success is not a measurement of the cubic footage that has an engraved name plate, with the space mostly used for holding golf memorobilia?
Yes. Waste of time. At my old Merrill Office a very successful 20 yr vet was just downsized, not because he's doing poorly, but because someone else came along and beat him. Who cares. Just get more business.
I know a guy who started at ML as a trainee and wasn't even given an office at all after getting to over 40MM in AUM. Several people transfered from other firms and got the space, some of whom brought fewer assets. This guy was justifiably pissed and moved his book for a decent sign on at Prudential-Bache. Worrying about a specific office is silly but having one at all is not so much an issue. It's a very clear sign that you don't value an employee to not offer one in general.
Office space and location is one of the perks of the job. In many offices the size and location of your office signals to all your success or lack of it. Even salaried staff pays attention to this. More importantly, is the message your office sends to clients.
Most offices have a pecking order from lowest to highest, starting with the board room. From there it goes small interior office, two window exterior office, three window exterior office and finally, corner office. It took me only four years to make it to a corner office. Whoo hoo!
To answer your question about downsizing voluntarily, I did so once. It was a mistake. At the time I was 4th highest producing broker in a 45 broker office. I left the comfort of a corner office to return to the board room. I did so to mentor trainees and struggling brokers with my intense cold calling/business building program. My first day out in the board room the reports I normally received from my SA every morning were missing. I went to her and she informed me that she was no longer my SA. Huh? Apparently, in this office board room FAs didn't get a Sales assistant. I'd only been in the office for a few months. The ops mgr automatically took my SA away when I moved. It took only a few minutes with the BM to straighten this out. The downside was that the ops mgr thought I was getting special treatment. Yoh dude, look at the numbers! This cancer spread to many of the 25 or so brokers who were not part of the program. It caused so much trouble among the malcontents that the mgr asked me to move back into an office. Of course because two months had passed he had given my corner office to another broker who made it clear he wasn't going to go quietly. In the interest of family unity i accepted a smaller office even though I was out producing the lout who had my office. Bottom line, that guy is out of the biz today. And two of my mentored guys are still in and doing well. But talk about a lot of wasted energy!
Lastly, the office thing can be used as punishment as well. In one office there was somewhat of an uprising against an incompetent BM. Even though I took no part in this or any of the detrimental activites these brokers participated in I was guilty by association. One of my good friends was a ring leader. The mgr came to me and told me he had to move me from my large office. He put me in a small interior office. Obviously his goal was to humiliate me. I said nothing and gave him no satisfaction. I quitely accepted his misguided decision and kept working. About 3 months into this chapter our regional mgr came to the office for a visit. We go way back. In this office, the set up put all the trainees in one large room at the far end of the office. My tiny office was two doors down from theirs. The Regional guy came down to talk to the trainees and saw me walk into my office. He asked what was going on. I told him to ask the BM. Later that day the BM came to me and asked me to move again. This time to a corner office, his corner office. The regional guy had handed him his ass. And people ask if a BM can make a difference in your life?
In the end the office thing is as stupid as it gets. But at the wires it's real. And it is a quality of life issue.
I for one like the real estate in my office. I like the autographed stuff, memorabilia, pictures on the wall, extra table and chairs, flat screen TV (how else was I supposed to watch the U.S. Open playoff on Monday?).
I spend more time in my office than I do at home, so it should have everything that I want.
You have to earn the big corner office. You should work to earn that. And just as easily as you can get, you can lose it.
If only I had space for a refrigerator and putting green...
I'm in complete agreeance with Ferris and the OldLady.
The third biggest producer in my office has one of the smallest offices. It bothers him every once in a while, but I swear he likes it because it forces him to be out of the office more to continue prospecting.