These days, it sometimes seems like a chore just to roll out of bed and into work. The market's down, the boss is a pain and the mere thought of cold calling makes you sweat. Maybe a change — a new firm with new colleagues — would jolt you back into being that ambitious, take-charge broker you used to be.
Before you act on this impulse, it's a good idea to stop and think about all the pros and cons. Is this a good time to change jobs? Is there, in fact, an ideal time to move? Some brokers would say have a great year, and then take a big check for joining a new firm. Others say it's time to bail out after a poor year — this one, for example. Perhaps the best time to leave is when you have a specific career goal in mind — joining a bank to get a built-in client base, gaining the cachet of a wirehouse or the freedom of an independent.
In the end, only you can decide what's right for you. But don't think of changing jobs without asking yourself these questions.
A Great Year
What constitutes a great year? Is a 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent jump in your production enough to qualify? Perhaps. But then you have to consider whether this gain is a one-time occurrence, or the start of a new trend. If you feel the jump was an aberration, then taking the big check begins to make sense. You are essentially selling yourself at the top, something your clients hope you do for them.
If, instead, you believe that your increased production will be sustainable, or even climb in the near future, consider these two questions.
Will the market for your skills be even stronger in the next 12 months to 24 months?
Will the package you take justify the business interruption, when things are going so well?
The ‘Grass is Greener’
For many brokers, the past two and a half years have been extremely trying. Production has taken a hit and it's hard to maintain the rich ‘90s lifestyle, not to mention the psychological effects of a down market. If you change firms, you at least get a fresh start, a chance to do it right this time. You could get upfront money. Even better, you will have a new “honeymoon” manager who won't immediately judge you. These are indeed nice things to have. But you must be sure that there is a long-term plan in place, not just a quick fix.
A Man/Woman With a Plan
A planned move should have an immediate and measurable effect on your business. For example:
A move from a small firm to a regional, or a regional to a wirehouse. This change provides you with a wider range of products, more recognition and new clients.
A culture change
A move from a traditional retail broker to a bank or money manager. Prime motivators include a built-in client base and a higher salary. This is often a less dynamic, but safer environment — and that's a big draw these days.
A move to an independent can lead to greater autonomy and a significantly higher payout.
The key to any of these moves is this: Will you take advantage of the change? Will you, for example, make an effort to present all the added services and name-cachet of the wirehouse to your clients? Will you fully use a bank's built-in client base and make the most of a guaranteed salary? Will the bulk of your book move to an independent, maximizing the increased payout structure?
These are questions a broker must take the time to answer long before signing on the dotted line. And, again, you're the only one with the answers.
Nicholas Ferber is the managing partner of the banking and brokerage business of executive recruiters SolomonEdwardsGroup. [email protected]