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Jul 18, 2006 6:50 pm

I am jumping ship to a top tier firm from a middle of the pack firm. I
am fairly new to this industry and I am making the switch because I
feel that it is a better fit and I will succeed in the long term. There
are several large producers at my previous firm (the one I am leaving),
would it be alright if I contacted their clients and solicited them to
leave? Or would this be considered to be an unethical business practice?

Jul 18, 2006 6:54 pm

All's fair in love and war, as the saying goes. 


Be aware, however, that the big hitters that you'll be trying to raid might fight back.  Are you ready for that?

Jul 18, 2006 7:58 pm

They won't go with you, but let's assume that they do.  What will you have succeeded in accomplishing?


How will these clients be better off by switching to you?  How is creating enemies going to help your career?


Jul 18, 2006 8:11 pm

If you're awesome, they'll find you. Everyone and their mom who invests knows how to use the NASD site.

Jul 18, 2006 8:44 pm

anabuhabkuss, was your last comment sarcastic?  I ask because I would bet that 90% of my clients have no idea that the site exists.

Jul 18, 2006 9:44 pm
newkid:

I am jumping ship to a top tier firm from a middle of the pack firm. I
am fairly new to this industry and I am making the switch because I
feel that it is a better fit and I will succeed in the long term. There
are several large producers at my previous firm (the one I am leaving),
would it be alright if I contacted their clients and solicited them to
leave? Or would this be considered to be an unethical business practice?



Did you bring the clients in to the (previous firm) in the first place?

If not, then IMHO it would be unethical to solicit them.  Put yourself in the other adviser's shoes.

Build your own client contacts.

Jul 18, 2006 9:47 pm
newkid:

There are several large producers at my previous firm (the one I am leaving), would it be alright if I contacted their clients and solicited them to leave? Or would this be considered to be an unethical business practice?


Yes, it would.


Exploiting a relationship of trust to achieve personal gain is unethical. You will help foster an atmosphere of distrust at your old firm, making it a less pleasant place to work. Others will suffer for your actions.


It will make you a great deal of blood enemies, but that really doesn't mean much in this business (after you move, you will be dead to them anyway).


What makes you think you would be successful in stealing their clients, anyway?

Jul 19, 2006 8:24 am
newkid:

I am jumping ship to a top tier firm from a middle of the pack firm. I am fairly new to this industry and I am making the switch because I feel that it is a better fit and I will succeed in the long term. There are several large producers at my previous firm (the one I am leaving), would it be alright if I contacted their clients and solicited them to leave? Or would this be considered to be an unethical business practice?


I"m sure these clients would much rather be with a new rookie that couldn't hack it at a wirehouse than with those silly, successful guys that they've had a long relationship with.

Jul 19, 2006 8:38 am

Don't kid yourself, newkid, there’s every possibility that they'll be saying things about you, to keep whatever accounts you had there, that could make a sailor blush. Keep that in mind, and whether or not you can do better for their clients than they are doing, (you said it’s a middle of the pack firm and you’ve moved up the ladder, right?) then decide if you want to make those calls.

Jul 19, 2006 11:40 am
newkid:

I am jumping ship to a top tier firm from a middle of the pack firm. I
am fairly new to this industry and I am making the switch because I
feel that it is a better fit and I will succeed in the long term. There
are several large producers at my previous firm (the one I am leaving),
would it be alright if I contacted their clients and solicited them to
leave? Or would this be considered to be an unethical business practice?



First and foremost, congratulations on the upgrade!  It's nice to see talented new FAs take the initiative and vote with their feet rather than stay in a mediocre program.

Now, you may be risking legal exposure by pursuing your colleague's clients.  Your non-compete almost certainly covers this kind of poaching.  What's your exposure?

Targeting somebody else's clients when you have absolutely no prior relationship is an unambiguously aggressive move.  This is not a gray area.  It could get you into big trouble.

Assuming that you have the legal issues covered, there's the marketing angle to consider.  Do you have any special relationship with these clients?  What makes you think that they're better prospects than anybody else?  If you can't answer these questions then you're probably wasting your time and provoking a former employer by doing so.

I suggest that you focus on keeping your existing clients and opening new markets.  Hopefully you put together a business plan before changing firms.  That should keep you busy for a while.

Jul 20, 2006 7:57 am

Not only is 'stealing' lists a violation of Intellectual Property law, you probably won't retain your current clients.  As MikeButler222 pointed out, they are going to feed your clients a few lines to ensure they do not follow you on your move. 


Whatever the case, good luck!

Jul 20, 2006 8:07 am

The most withering line, in my opinion is simply,


"I'm calling to let you know that we had to let Bob Broker go this morning.  We're sorry he didn't work out with us.


"I have been asked to let you know that we value your business and hope you will continue to trust us with your investment dollars.


"May I have a couple of minutes to tell you a bit about myself and how I approach this challenging profession?"


I especially like the "We had to let Bob go" phrase--it sounds like you were fired, but is actually nothing more than express regrets that you left.

Jul 20, 2006 8:31 am
NASD Newbie:

The most withering line, in my opinion is simply,


"I'm calling to let you know that we had to let Bob Broker go this morning.  We're sorry he didn't work out with us.


"I have been asked to let you know that we value your business and hope you will continue to trust us with your investment dollars.


"May I have a couple of minutes to tell you a bit about myself and how I approach this challenging profession?"


I especially like the "We had to let Bob go" phrase--it sounds like you were fired, but is actually nothing more than express regrets that you left.



So what's your point?

Jul 20, 2006 8:55 am

I think his point is that keeping clients of an advisor who leaves a firm is not a hard sell.

Jul 21, 2006 2:37 pm
entrylevelFA:

I think his point is that keeping clients of an advisor who leaves a firm is not a hard sell.



That battle is won or lost long before you decide to jump.

No matter how slick the sales pitch from either side, it all comes down to one issue for the client:   "Do I consider myself a client of the brokerage or do I consider myself a client of the broker."

If they believe that their relationship lies with you, and not with the logo, then your old firm has a very uphill battle. 


The quality of your relationship is the most important factor.  Good transition support from your new firm also makes a huge difference.

The third biggest factor (IMHO) is your new firm's suitability to the needs of your key clients.   This is especially important for my clients in their early careers (LOS 1-3) who want shift from a middle-class firm to a program at a HNW firm.  They usually only have a couple of HNW clients, and each one of them is a "MUST WIN" situation.

Finally, there's the makeup of your book.  Certain financial products are very difficult to move no matter how much your client loves you. 

That's why client retention rates and asset retention rates are erratic and unpredictable.

Jul 21, 2006 3:47 pm

I agree.


I have seen some older brokers jump ship in the past year and take up to 90% of their book.  On the other hand we had a young broker  leave and go over to another BD recently & he has only been able to pull over his friends & family.


My question is how do you let your BEST clients know you're thinking about jumping ship without letting the cat out of the bag? If you hint at leaving and you trust them that's fine but what if you're wrong & they rat you out to your BOM the minute you walk out of their house?

Jul 21, 2006 4:49 pm
Registered Rep:

My question is how do you let your BEST clients know you're thinking about jumping ship without letting the cat out of the bag?



Soliciting a client before you leave your old firm can get you into serious legal trouble in some states.   You usally have more options after you quit.

Your potential new branch manager can be a good source of information regarding what's effective within your jurisdiction and target market.

Any suggestions should be cross-checked by your own legal counsul.  The case law on non-compete agreements varies widely from state to state.

Registered Rep:

If you hint at leaving and you trust them
that's fine but what if you're wrong & they rat you out to your BOM
the minute you walk out of their house?



I don't see any way that a client would benefit from such a betrayal.  Or why they would object to a broker "looking around to see what's in both of our best interests".

And if your client is that unpredictable then you're probably better off leaving them behind.  If they don't get you now they will someday. 

Jul 21, 2006 6:00 pm

AHA!

This article published by our gracious hosts a few years ago speaks directly to the legal issue.

http://registeredrep.com/career/financenoncompete_trap_no/

Note the section at the bottom where FAs are advised not to speak with clients ahead of time about a departure.

Jul 22, 2006 7:47 am
JCadieux:

AHA!

This article published by our gracious hosts a few years ago speaks directly to the legal issue.

http://registeredrep.com/career/financenoncompete_trap_no/

Note the section at the bottom where FAs are advised not to speak with clients ahead of time about a departure.


Good Article. Thanks for sharing.