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Managing Your Business Life in Uncertain Times

While there is much financial advisors cannot control about their professional trajectory at the moment, there are some important points to focus on to stay on track.

The world is a very different place than it was just a week ago—and continues to change in ways no one could predict nor prepare for. First and foremost, we are navigating an extraordinary health crisis and must prioritize taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

And of course, there’s the formidable financial crisis—the impact of which is unquantifiable at this time. As advisors entrusted with the financial well-being of your clients, it probably feels like you’re drinking from a fire hose—balancing communications with them while processing an abundance of information from your firm and the media.

Advisors that we’ve been talking with over the past week are walking through these times with courage and compassion. But at the same time, they’re wondering about their own business lives going forward—curious about the state of recruiting now and into the future: 

Are advisors still moving?

Are the firms still recruiting?

Are aggressive transition deals still there?

Are advisors still going independent?

And while our answer to all of the above is “Yes,” it’s certainly not business as usual. Here’s where things stand today …

Are advisors still moving?

Advisors who were far along in their due diligence processes or had commitments to move are still planning to do so. Attorney David Gehn, a partner in litigation at New York–based law firm Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP, says, “If an advisor believes he will be better served elsewhere, then a move is appropriate. However, if a team is moving now or in the near future, there is an extra level of diligence that should be undertaken to ensure that all the requisite support needed for transition and ongoing operations is available.”  

Understandably, though, advisors who were just beginning to dip their toes in the due diligence waters are likely to take a hiatus until things stabilize. 

Are the firms still recruiting?

The prevailing message from leadership at every wealth management firm, independent broker/dealer and custodian is that recruiting remains a top priority—and they are still actively onboarding advisor talent, although the timing of a move may be fluid. The firms are taking their cues from advisors and engaging at whatever pace the recruits feel comfortable with.

Are aggressive transition deals still there?

As of this moment, we have no reason to believe that transition deals will change in any way. What remains to be seen is how the firms will account for declines in advisors’ T12 production numbers over time. As of now, it appears most firms are honoring outstanding transition offers if a team moves within the next 60–90 days.  

Are advisors still going independent?

We are working with many advisors and teams who are planning to break away. In addition to the many advantages of independence motivating them to leave the banks and brokerage firms, the ability to more nimbly and creatively communicate with clients, particularly in times of crisis, has become a more significant driver than ever before.

But what about timing?

Yet, of all the questions we are asked, the one we are asked most often is this:

Is it appropriate to consider change in the midst of this volatile climate?

Considering change, in any climate, is a highly personal decision. So we always counsel advisors to think about the following:

  1. Don’t let fear drive your decisions—be thoughtful, measured and prudent.
  2. Don’t lose sight of the goals you set for yourself—timing may be the only thing that ultimately needs to shift.
  3. Remain big picture focused—in the wake of a crisis, it’s even more important to keep your eye on the prize and continue making decisions with the endgame in mind. 
  4. Use this time to view your firm through the lens of being a good partner—ensuring that you have the support, platform and freedom that allows you to best serve your clients.
  5. And, while uncertainty and instability are the watchwords for now, remember this, too, shall pass.

These are unprecedented times for which there is no playbook. How people choose to react and respond is highly personal. But we do know this: When you are expected to be a professional cheerleader for clients and staff, you’re likely forced to ignore your own feelings of fear and anxiety, leaving you overwhelmed and exhausted. (I know, because I am the “cheerleader in chief” at Diamond Consultants.) So it is equally important that you be observant of your feelings, taking good care of your mental well-being as well as your physical health—and acknowledging the impact stress may be having on you.

For me, I find healing moments in those things that center me: Taking breaks often. Going for walks. Meditating. Exercising. Talking with my family. And being fully present in every conversation I have.

And while there’s much going on that we can’t control, there’s much that we can. That is, our attitudes, our responses and the decisions we make. So let’s move through this together, staying healthy and well, with a mindset that is open and positive.

Mindy Diamond is president and CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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