Transition Tips

Transition Tips

When it comes to changing jobs these days, there’s not a lot of wiggle room to negotiate. That said, it is particularly important in turbulent times

Transition Tips

When it comes to changing jobs these days, there’s not a lot of wiggle room to negotiate. That said, it is particularly important in turbulent times such as these for advisors who are considering a move (or who are being forced to consider one) to make sure you are doing everything possible to get the job that’s most suitable for you. Here are a few simple pointers to guide you as you think about your next move.

1. Evaluate yourself
For starters, assess whether you are happy, what truly makes you happy, and whether a new position will help you achieve that. Do you like working for a big company? Or do you prefer a level of autonomy that your current situation doesn’t provide you? What is it about your current environment that you like and what is it that you don’t? What do you want your career to look like in five years? Will it take more education than you currently have? Are you really ready to make a change?

“There are a lot of unhappy advisors. Identifying that source of unhappiness and helping them…is a key piece,” said Chris Holman, senior executive coach at ClientWise, a full-service executive and advisor coaching firm in Tarrytown, N.Y.

2. Assess your possibilities
There are so many possibilities out there, be it wirehouse, regional firm, bank broker/dealer, independent broker/dealer or registered investment advisor. Each has its own plusses and minuses, and taking the time to learn about your options can only work to your advantage.

At the same time, you need to think about your asset base and mix. Many firms these days want the bulk of their new hires’ business to be fee-based. If most of your business comes from one-off stock and bond sales, you might not be ready to move to an independent or RIA model, for example.

Many reps don’t really go through a process, said John Brett, senior vice president of the broker/dealer group at MetLife Inc. in Iselin, N.J. They get a call from a recruiter, visit the firm, make a decision based on the emotion, and often end up being disappointed, he said. By contrast, the most successful reps spend two to three months before they leave preparing to make a transition, as opposed to saying “I can’t take it anymore” and making a quick decision.

3. Go for growth
With the overall industry in turmoil, many advisors are facing reductions in payouts and may harbor doubts about the long-term viability of their firm. But jumping at the highest offer isn’t always prudent. It is important to consider, for example, the type of firm you’d be joining, the support available, the stability, and growth potential.

“Don’t always look at what puts the most money in your pocket today, but take a little bit of a longer term approach and see where you’re going to be comfortable over the long haul,” said Dan Timm, principal responsible for branch development at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

“Everybody believes they are A-Rod, or a superstar,” but going for growth is better for advisors and their clients long term, Brett said. For example, a $500,000 producer at firm one should look for a firm that will help him grow to be at least a $750,000 producer, not just a firm that will pay him the most money upfront, he said.

4. Have a plan
When speaking to other firms, make sure you don’t come across as an unhappy advisor fishing for more money. Instead, be prepared to show you are ready to make a transition and have a viable business plan in place that you are ready to execute on. “Changing firms is tough, and if I am not focused as an advisor on what my business plan is—if I don’t have a plan for growth—in this marketplace, I won’t survive,” said Holman of ClientWise.

5. Consider your clients
Before the market fell apart in 2008, advisors when changing firms could count on retaining a considerable portion of those clients, according to Holman. But now, clients are jittery and mistrustful of firms and may even start to question their relationship with their advisors. With this new reality, you have to be even more mindful of whether your new employer is a place clients would also be willing to call home, he said.

While you are in the midst of planning your move, make sure you don’t do anything that your firm could hold against you later on. "You don't want to leave anything on the table, but you've got to do it without creating liability," said Larry Sukay, managing partner with Lucas Group, a recruiting firm in San Diego, Calif.

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