Are you a top producer who was passed over recently by a wirehouse firm? While hiring managers are still primarily interested in a financial advisor's production and client assets, gone are the days when firms look solely at these criteria. Because of changes in the regulatory environment and because recruiting packages continue to twist skyward, firms have become more selective about hiring. Here are six reasons why you might be passed over for that six-figure recruiting bonus despite a stellar record of production.
“The Jerk Factor”: Maintaining a harmonious office culture is often more important to branch managers than recruiting the greatest number of advisors in a year. Have you burned any bridges? Have you gone after the clients of recently departed advisors from your firm? What would others in your community say about you? Even if a branch manager falls in love with you, if the advisors in his office tell him that they won't work with you, that manager is going to be forced to walk away from negotiations with you. One client put it best: “We have a ‘no jerk’ rule.”
Take the case of Mary Ellen, a New York City-based wirehouse advisor, managing in excess of $400 million in high-net-worth client assets. After 23 years with one firm, Mary Ellen began to wonder if she might be able to serve her clients with fewer limitations, more pricing freedom and better access to an open architecture of products and services elsewhere. Having come to the conclusion that “all major firms are created equal,” she met with six different high-quality boutique wealth management firms. After an exhaustive search she decided that her first choice was a four-year-old multi-family office, managing $2 billion in assets. Unfortunately for Mary Ellen, Lloyd, a former colleague, was recruited to this boutique firm a year earlier. And, Lloyd had a good memory.
When Lloyd left Mary Ellen's firm, she aggressively went after Lloyd's clients telling them that he was a less than stellar advisor. When Lloyd learned that his new firm was thinking of recruiting Mary Ellen, he strenuously objected and told the manager, “It's her or me.” As a result, Mary Ellen was not offered a position at the firm.
Crystal Clean Compliance: In today's hyper-vigilant compliance culture, firms large and small have become infinitely more scrupulous about hiring advisors with pending, recent or multiple compliance “dings” on their U-4's (Uniform Application for Broker-Dealer Registration, or an advisor's compliance history). Until even just 12 months ago, local branch managers were given wide latitude if they wanted to make an exception and hire an advisor despite compliance infractions. However, today's regulatory environment has made compliance departments more cautious and the hiring decisions have become much more black and white. The larger the firm, the more unlikely that exceptions will be made for advisors with questionable compliance histories.
Too Many Moves: Hiring managers want stability in their advisor forces. Rising upfront bonuses mean that firms need advisors to stick around longer if that initial investment is going to pay off. By and large, the rules are simple; more than two moves in 10 years (unless there is a solid extenuating circumstance) and you won't be hired.
Client Mix: The bar has been raised, and the larger financial institutions expect their advisors to cater to a high-net-worth client base. Wirehouse firms have opened call centers to serve clients with less than $100,000 in investable assets and comp grids have been adjusted to penalize advisors for working with less affluent clients. Even many of the recently launched quasi-independent and boutique wealth management firms are building an image based upon serving a wealthier client base.
Transactional vs. Fee-Based: Although 100 percent transactional brokers are fast becoming dinosaurs, every firm employs a percentage of them. Getting recruited can often be a different story for these brokers. Firms want the recurring revenue that fee-based accounts can provide, while transactional business is riskier to manage from a compliance perspective.
Top advisors will constantly capture the attention of hiring managers everywhere. But, being recruited today and getting paid multiples of your book of business depend upon much more than just production and the size of your book.
is president of Diamond Consultants, of Chester, N.J., which specializes in retail brokerage and banking recruiting. www.diamondrecruiter.com