When advisors decide to embark on a job search, they often overlook one very important firm to evaluate: their current one.
It's an understandable oversight. Many advisors begin a search out of specific dislike for their current employer, so it makes sense that they would summarily omit that firm from their consideration.
Still, there are good reasons to perform the same due diligence on a current employer as you would on a prospective one. The most important one: establishing a baseline against which other firms can be measured.
Here are three examples of brokers and broker teams who decided to test the waters of the job market. As you will see, each starts with a careful and detached evaluation of the current job.
The team approach.
A large successful team of institutional brokers is currently working for a major firm — a firm to which they are very loyal. Still, not all is perfect. Top management no longer has a vision that is compatible with the goals of their team. Further, as the firm has grown, additional teams have come aboard, and the group now feels devalued. An evaluation of their current firm turned up two major shortcomings: compensation and access to sophisticated products. Top management has promised to improve the situation, but in the meantime, the detached evaluation of the firm has given the team the information it needs to find out if something better is out there. With the help of a recruiter, the team started meeting with other firms. When something better comes along, they will be equipped to identify it quickly and to pounce, if appropriate.
A successful broker, working for the same regional firm for nearly 15 years, was one of its top producers — highly respected and under no pressure to leave. He had always thought that he worked for the best firm on the street, until a recent “Career Moves” column convinced him to take a critical look at his current firm. That evaluation turned up two issues. First, his firm's lack of deferred compensation has cost him as much as $1 million in lost compensation relative to his peers at wirehouses. Second, his current firm's limited array of products has probably curbed his production. Prior to evaluating his firm, the advisor's only complaint was about its dearth of products for high-net-worth clients. Now he knows there are firms that can provide better growth opportunities, and thanks to his high production and clean record, he is in a position to receive a transition package of up to 150 percent of trailing 12-months production.
The marrying kind.
A broker with a dozen years experience at a large regional firm had a couple of preconceived notions about how he might change jobs. The first possibility was if he found a broker close to retirement at another firm who wanted to sell his book. The second involved partnering with a broker with a large book. In general, though, he was happy at his firm and had little reason to go looking for these opportunities — until, that is, he gave a critical look to his current firm and found its technology severely wanting. He also found that while his current firm had a decent reputation, there were firms with stronger brands out there, and they were willing to pay handsome transition packages. His three-month search has produced several opportunities that are a good fit. His most likely option is to join forces with a broker with a large book of business who is four years from retirement.
The most important thing to remember when searching for a new position is that you remain in control during the entire process of evaluating career options. Looking carefully at the competition can be informative, and it can be comforting. The same can be said for examining your current firm. It may turn out that your current firm is the right one for you, but the only way to find out is by taking a good hard look.
Writer's BIO: Mindy Diamond founded Chester, N.J.-based Diamond Consultants, which specializes in retail brokerage and banking recruiting (www.diamondrecruiter.com).