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Aug 12, 2008 1:59 pm

Just curious - what is everyone's opinion on working on a team versus being solo?  I am asking this from the perspective of client perception.  Most of what I see at the wire offices in my area is taht everyone is teaming up.  But I also see most of the indy's in my area being solo (as in REAL solo - no assistant), whiles some are very similar to us (solo advisor with assistant).  For those indies that have no assistant, do you ever sense concern from your clients about being solo?  I have been courted recently by a wire team to join up with them.  Though I don't really want to move right now, the concept of joining a team is very intriguing.  If Jones let us do it, I would build a team in a heartbeat - but we all know how that goes.  I know what all the merits are of teams, I just wonder how much of an advantage there is (or disadvantage NOT being on a team).

 
This is not a "is-Jones-better-than-going-indy-or-wirehouse" question.  I can decide that on my own.  I am really just curious from a firm-neutral standpoint what people think of teams in general.
Aug 12, 2008 4:51 pm

It depends what you and your potential team each bring to the table. In most cases, each member specializes in a specific area. I am not on a team myself, but if you ever look at the top producers at any firm, most are in a team or have their own group within their specific firm and manage from 250 million to over a billion dollars. Not many solo folks do that.

Aug 12, 2008 6:11 pm

If your book is built why do you need a team?

 
I am indy and my book is built and I are content. Why would I want to join a team? I have asked myself that question.
 
There are plenty of pros and cons to the answer. But it always boils down at least for me, I am content and happy with my income and my book. And I do not want to mess that up! BOTTOM LINE.
 
 
Aug 12, 2008 9:00 pm

GB,



That's a great point. However, I am only 2.5 yrs. in, so I am not quite "built" yet (though my wife would tell you otherwise ). I think if I had 50-70mm AUM already, I would not need to consider it. But I appreciate what you are saying.

Aug 12, 2008 9:28 pm
B24:

GB,

That's a great point. However, I am only 2.5 yrs. in, so I am not quite "built" yet (though my wife would tell you otherwise ). I think if I had 50-70mm AUM already, I would not need to consider it. But I appreciate what you are saying.

 
At 2.5 years in, it would seem that there are only a couple of reasons to be on a team:  1. You haven't brought in enough assets (not saying you have/not), 2. Other people on the team will be able to add to your bottom line, 3. You were going into a team with a buyout looming.
 
Obviously, if you have 50mm AUM and you are by yourself, you need 200mm if you have a team of 4.  So what's the incentive?  They cover for you while you're on vacation? 
 
I do think there can be a feeling of confidence in numbers.  If you're sitting across the table from a prospect, could they feel more comfortable with 6 eyes on their account as opposed to 2?  I guess so.
 
Question for you:  If these wirehouse guys are trying to get you on their team, how much do they manage and how much have you brought in in 2.5 years?  There has to be some other incentive for you I would think.
Aug 13, 2008 8:48 am

I am part of a team.  I did it because I enjoy the customer service side and my partner only wants to propspect...though he does still manage a handful of key clients.  We each get to do more of what we like.  After combining our books, we were surprised to find many clients tell us they liked the idea of always having a backup.  If they called to ask a question, get a check, etc. and their usual contact was not available, they could speak to someone else that 1) they already knew, 2) was familiar with their account, and 3) they didn't have to wait for a return call.  Since then, we've gotten new accounts specifically for those reasons.

 
Teams are not for everyone, but can work well if properly built and each team member's responsibilities are clearly defined.
Aug 13, 2008 8:54 am

Wow, someone who actually LIKES prospecting?  That's different.  But I guess if you do not have the pressure to close them, there is a certain sense of freedom in it.  More like a pure sales & PR job.

Aug 14, 2008 8:23 am

b24,

 
I have been on a teeam of 4 for several years and it has been wonderful.  What we have positioned in our partnership is different areas of expertise that each of us would take the lead on.  From what clients have stated is that they like the idea of having others on the team that they can turn to in case one of us is out of the office plus if they have specific questions we would have the knowledge on our team to handle it.
 
I personally think the model of selling product to clients and then moving on to the next is outdated.  Yes you can continue to be a generalist and make a good living, but if you want to penetrate clients deeper and get involved with the high net worth market then you need to have more in depth planning skills which requires more team members with different areas of specialty.  You can look at the medical field as an example.  Your family doctor will make a good living and be respected in their community, but the people who make the real big money are the specialist that the family doctor sends their patients on to.  You can't be all things to all people and you must at some point in time decide to either be a generalist or bring others on the team who have those specialties.
Aug 14, 2008 6:04 pm

B24 when I left Jones I set up my practice with another former Joneser!  We are both OSJ's and have two seperate Branches--but we share office space, utilities, even an assistant.  We fill in when one is out sick or on vacation--we have a buy/sell.  But we operate as seperate businesses--it works great for each of us.  I am a LLC using a DBA!

Aug 14, 2008 8:35 pm

I would say it all depends on what you want.  If you are comfortable at 30-75 AUM with your production level and have the happy medium of hours per week you might not want to join a team.  However it is very interesting that Goldman Sachs a very successfull wealth management firm that usually targets clients with only $10 million and up puts their advisors in large teams.  Like others have said the higher the market the more specialization will be required.  Even being Indy on a team can be a very good thing.  Imagine one partners handles insurance and estate planning, another wealth management, another qualified retirement plans, another reserach etc.  You get the idea I am sure.  Can you be successfull as a solo?  Absolutely, but being able to differentiate is the key to targeting larger accounts.  It is much easier to do that with one a defined process, and two a clear  accounting of what team members handle what.  They don't call Family Offices Family Solos for a reason.  But you can do really well as an adviosr on your own without anyone.  It really just depends on how many hours you want to work, what kind of clientele you are trying to land, and what you want out of the biz!

Aug 21, 2008 9:40 pm

Teams are great for people who don't want to work too hard and take lots of vacations.  The only downside is when the other guy gets fired or splits with your clients. Stay solo.

Aug 22, 2008 11:25 pm

Team is just like any other committed relationship.  The need for a common goal, understanding of one another, trust, and open communication are key.

 
I'm part of a successful team, and I love the dynamic.  We'd both be doing much worse if we hadn't joined up.  Our client relationships are deeper and much more satisfying. 
 
It keeps you motivated, and forces you to take on accountability. 
 
HOWEVER, you do give up a lot of control.  Presently, I'm open to exploring going indy...while my team partner is more resistant.  
 
BE WARNED:  it's frustrating knowing you can't always get your own way when you're "married". 
Aug 23, 2008 12:11 am
unsure_at_HRBFA:

Team is just like any other committed relationship.  The need for a common goal, understanding of one another, trust, and open communication are key.

 
I'm part of a successful team, and I love the dynamic.  We'd both be doing much worse if we hadn't joined up.  Our client relationships are deeper and much more satisfying. 
 
It keeps you motivated, and forces you to take on accountability. 
 
HOWEVER, you do give up a lot of control.  Presently, I'm open to exploring going indy...while my team partner is more resistant.  
 
BE WARNED:  it's frustrating knowing you can't always get your own way when you're "married". 
 
Unsure, please pass this along to your partner.  Now is a golden opportunity to make the jump to indepence and experience wealth and freedom like you never have.  Your clients don't know your new B/D...they know you and your partner.  LPL is full of teams and they appear for the most part to be very successful.  I would guess that Raymond James is similar.  I seriously doubt that Ameriprise has a better platform than LPL or Raymond James, but to be fair, I'm speaking only from what I've heard secondhand.  As a solo independent with a full-time assistant (and a summer intern this year), I'm netting almost 70% of my gross.  I doubt that you, sharing expenses with a partner would make any less.  If anything, you'll probably net a higher percentage, but that very much depends upon how you set up.
 
Convincing your partner to jump with you is crucial in my opinion, unless you have strong evidence that a sufficient percentage of your clients prefer you to your partner.  Such a divorce can be very unpredictable and potentially disasterous for at least one of you.  Your partner is probably being seduced by the siren song of a nice retention package, which in the end, is an illusion.  The extra money is small compared to the potential income differential realized over the career of a typical independent without even considering the possibility of selling your book of business.
 
If you decide to jump, plan on spending at least 3-4 months preparing and get Robert Fragasso's book on going independent.  Lats I knew you could buy it from his website www.fragassogroup.com.  Good luck.