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 very familiar nest to undertake the herculean effort of changing firms? Could the money alone be a powerful enough motivator? Everyone reads about a big move when it happens but what the press reports is usually only a select snippet of the reasoning behind it.
When news of Brian and Tim Brice’s departure from Merrill Lynch was announced last week, it caused quite a stir. To be sure, management in Merrill Lynch’s Birmingham, Michigan office must be reeling because the loss of almost $8 million in annual revenue is not at all an easy pill to swallow. Morgan Stanley’s leadership, on the other hand, is elated. What a public relations bonanza to land a whale of a team like the Brice Group. And, what’s most important are the implications that a move like this has for the industry as a whole as advisors everywhere pay attention and wonder if they, too, should think about changing jerseys.
Read on to gain an understanding of 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 to have tangible impact upon their ability to “get it done-“service their clients and grow their businesses. It usually 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 generates, is concerned about clients following him to a new firm. And, well he should be. 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. Remember, though, that strict adherence to Protocol is especially critical for these corner office advisors because they are way too high profile to sneak out without being noticed- even a minor breach of Protocol could be reason enough for the current firm to come after them with legal guns blazing.
- Will It Be Different Enough? This is the “$64,000 question” that every would-be firm-changer needs to ask himself. “So, I am frustrated with my present situation but have I identified an alternative better enough?” In the case of The Brice Group, for example, it was determined that Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting platform would allow for greater control and flexibility to further grow their spectacular business.
- How important is the check? Very! Always! But, rarely is the outsized transition money offered 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.