In the eight years since it was written, 801 firms have signed onto the so-called broker protocol, which defines what kind of client information a departing broker can take with him to a new firm. That, in turn, determines the ease with which an advisor can take his clients, and their accounts, to the new joint. Advisors are allowed to take client names, addresses, phone/fax numbers, email addresses and account names; they can’t take tax ID or social security numbers, client statements, account numbers, or any other financial documentation pertaining to the clients.And they can’t let their clients know about the move or solicit them before they make the switch.
Here’s the interesting thing: 97 percent of the protocol’s new signatories have joined since the financial crisis. From January 2008 to February 2012 alone, 780 new firms got on board. It makes sense. A record number of advisors changed firms in the years after the market fell apart.