What makes a big team move? What could be the catalyst powerful enough to make advisors managing more than $1B in assets leave the comfort of a familiar nest to undertake the herculean effort of changing firms? Could the money alone be a powerful enough motivator? Except for rare instances, the answer is “no.” When the biggest teams choose to change jerseys it’s about “pushes” and “pulls”- a tangible impact on one’s ability to grow his/her business AND the identification of an opportunity that will be more than marginally better elsewhere.
What’s often behind the decision:
- Why Now? Very often, the final straw relates to a change in firm policy that directly impacts the specific work an advisor does. In the end, while never an easy decision, advisors move when there is a catalyst(s) significant enough usually related to client service or business growth. It boils down to control- the advisor wants more and the loss of it is almost always the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
- Concerns About Portability? Every advisor, no matter how much revenue he/she generates, is concerned about clients following him to a new firm. If one does not believe that client relationships are deep and solid enough, then even consideration of a move would be folly. Most “whales” are secure in their relationships and ultimately decide that as long as they can confidently tell clients that their needs will be met with the same and hopefully superior level of service and deliverable elsewhere, they move beyond this concern.
- Will It Be Different Enough? This is the “$64,000 question” that every would-be firm-changer needs to ask. “So, I am frustrated with my present situation but have I identified an alternative better enough?” The answers to “How do I want to live my business life,” and “What are my goals?” will usually be the determinant as to the choice one makes. For example, if a wirehouse advisor wants to be independent badly enough, then this might well be the thing that motivates him/her to take action.
- How Important is the Check? Very! Always! But, rarely is the outsized transition money offered to big teams enough to make them willing to disrupt momentum and break the loyalty that most feel for their firms. These alpha dogs always say the same thing: “It’s not about the money!” Yet, no one would ever move without it, nor should they. A move can be disruptive, it is risky, and it will place a heavy burden on every member of the team during the transition period.
Just about every change in life is motivated by “pushes” and “pulls.” An advisor’s decision to change firms, especially when that advisor is making a very nice living and does not have a gun to his head, is never simple. But, in this recruiter’s opinion, if there is catalyst(s) significant enough and a better opportunity awaiting you, then making a move can be a great choice.