Getting and then accepting that “perfect offer” are completely different animals. Here are 5 key ingredients you need to move forward with confidence.
Despite the fact that once high watermark wirehouse recruiting bonuses have come down, the expanded industry landscape still offers many very real opportunities for advisors seeking change. Whether you’re an advisor whose primary goal is to monetize your business or the search for a new firm is more about identifying a home where you feel your clients and career can be better served, there is no shortage of options.
Many jump into the exploration process wholeheartedly at first, then that perfect opportunity appears and they find themselves caught in a high-class paradox: The deal is at their doorstep but they’re too afraid to open the door.
Consider a very talented 3-man team that reached a level of frustration which became intolerable. The combination of limitations placed on them, bureaucracy they were mired in, and a loss of faith in senior leadership led them to feel confident that it was time to take their clients and change jerseys.
Managing in excess of $4B in client assets and generating almost $12mm in annual revenue, they felt that they – and their clients – deserved better.
While their reasons for making a move were well-justified and extended beyond the desire to monetize their business, the partners had a number in mind: A 2X multiple on the $12mm up front, plus back-end bonuses and reimbursement for all of their unvested deferred comp, or a total deal worth close to $40mm. It was largely an arbitrary round number—an “ask” so far outside the box, that it bordered on the absurd. Despite that, they said “If a top firm with the right overall value proposition is willing to write us this deal, we are ready to commit ASAP.”
And lo and behold, one of the best firms in the industry agreed to write almost the exact deal they wanted.
The advisors went from a state of bold confidence and enthusiasm to one of doubt and trepidation. Suddenly concerns whirled about being “truly ready” to make a move.
“I hadn’t even considered that.”
The reality is that with any move, you must be uber-confident in these 5 areas before you are ready to jump ship:
- The “real” depth of your client relationships. Do you feel comfortable that you have always done right by your clients? Are you confident that they would follow you as long as you can continue to serve them with their best interests first and foremost? This is the time where you will be asking for payback—that is, ultimate trust in you for all of the work you have done to date on their behalf.
- Your growth – both historical and your pipeline – and the ability to perform going forward. While the team in the example above is being heavily incentivized to make the move, the ability to grow should trump any amount of money offered up front. Do you have faith in yourself and your team to keep building the business?
- Your capacity to tolerate risk. Anytime you’re leaving what’s familiar and comfortable, and essentially having to re-win your clients, there is risk involved. Are you comfortable with that? Are you mentally and physically up to the challenge?
- Your ability to think big picture, not just focus on the short term. Is making this move truly better for you, your clients and your business in the long run?
- Your ability to quickly turn disruption into momentum. Any move, without a doubt, brings along a certain level of business disturbance. While preparation and planning are critical to setting a good foundation under a new roof, you’ll need to get the business moving forward as quickly as possible. Are you confident that you can build momentum towards a “new normal”?
There’s no doubt that changing firms will stir up some fear in any advisor. But when the fear becomes so great that it stops you in your tracks, it typically means you’ve not covered your bases. The 3 partners I mentioned earlier felt they were “really ready” to make a move when they first reached out to me—so much so that they swung for the bleachers with their “ask”. And while they considered the monetary aspect, as well as the potential for solving for the frustrations at their old firm, they hadn’t ever thought about what making a move meant in terms of these 5 criteria. So, they thoughtfully backed up the train and made certain that they could wholeheartedly answer “yes” to each. Then they decided to move forward, regaining the confidence and enthusiasm they started with.
More often than not, the initial picture you paint in your mind seems perfect; everything you’ve ever dreamed of…then reality sets in. The mind starts to race, ruminating about the details you may not have considered, and fear and trepidation take hold. The key is not to get caught up in the emotion or allow it to paralyze you. Walk before you start running, and be sure to allow some time to thoughtfully consider your goals. Only then can you make the best decision for you: That is, to either stay put and not be enticed by a bright and shiny object, or to realize your dream and move forward with confidence.