You work in a small market office of a wirehouse firm and are the only game in town—which can have its advantages, like dominating the market place: both a great feeling and economically rewarding.
You are the “go-to” advisor in your local community and your clients trust you.
You have developed solid relationships with CPA’s and local attorneys and they refer a considerable amount of business your way. Life is good…for now. Then your manager tells you that there are concerns from the top that the office is not as profitable as it could be and there is talk of closing it.
Your worst fears…realized.
Things are starting to change…You are in an office that has shifted all operational and managerial support to another complex farther away from where you sit. A large team in the office just resigned. The questions are circling in your head. The frustrations are building, and you would like to know what options you might have, but your office is the only one in town.
There are many significant advisors sitting in these “small town” offices collectively managing billions of dollars in assets. Most, like you, have built a lifestyle in the close-knit community, and are content living where they are. You know that staying put could be the easy solution, and often better than the “devil you don’t know”. But, if these folks no longer feel supported and relevant, they may choose to leave the status quo behind. Getting educated about their options is surely the appropriate first step.
Take “Larry” for example, a successful advisor who lives in the South, hours away from an airport. He sat in a small, traditional wirehouse office with a few other advisors—each content with their business and lifestyle. Together, their annual production was about $3mm, yet they were concerned with what the future held for them at their firm. Back office operations had been shifted to a larger office in the complex, there was substantial cost-cutting going on and profits were down for their office. They were sitting on eggshells, not knowing from one day to the next if they would be given notice of the office closing or what other changes might lie ahead. Fortunately, Larry and his colleagues had long fantasized about becoming business owners, so going independent was the answer for them. Newfound concerns around stability of their local office just provided the impetus to make their dream a reality. They found the right independent solution, which allowed them to stay in the town where they built their businesses and their lives, and to continue to service their clients in a way that satisfied all. And, as a byproduct, Larry and his team would see superior take home economics, while also being able to offer clients a more robust solution set, better technology, and more flexibility.
While independence may be the most obvious solution, we are lucky to be living in a time where an expanded industry landscape offers far more options than ever before. For instance, if your business is strong, regional firms like Raymond James & Associates, Stifel Nicolaus or Janney Montgomery Scott may find it attractive and consider opening a new office in your community. And they’ll bring with them a robust platform, a sizable transition package, and often a higher payout than the wirehouses. There are also quasi-independent models which offer a turnkey solution without having to deal with the minutia of running a business. For some, moving to another wirehouse firm, even if it means commuting a bit farther, would allow them to feel familiar and supported—and the potential of a big transition check doesn’t hurt.
And while all these options are viable, the fact remains that some may choose to stay where they are and hope for the best.
For these folks, small is where big things are happening; and while change is imminent, the result can still be positive. The real key to success in such scenarios is to ensure you are always looking at the big picture, and truly learning about and evaluating your options—and that those options align with what is best for you and your clients.