What to do When a Partner or Team Member is Terminated
A terminated advisor not only leaves behind his team, but also a wake of disruption and vulnerability. Here are 7 action items to get the business moving in a positive direction.
Advisors at big brokerage firms have found themselves in a world driven by a zero-tolerance culture—an environment where compliance departments rule with a heavy hand while management is focused on the lowest common denominator. It’s a transformation that evolved over the last several years as firms became more risk-averse, creating an incongruence between advisors who want to provide a bespoke experience for their clients and a compliance department that wants to put a narrow box around them.
This hyper-compliant environment has resulted in many examples of top advisors who were terminated with cause for things that in the not-too-distant past would have been treated as an infraction worthy of a warning.
Much has been written in industry publications on the subject of termination—including our own articles on steps a terminated advisor needs to take, as well as how to save a terminated advisor’s career. But we recognized an industry-wide gap in the information: While these articles provide useful advice, they speak primarily to the individual advisor who has been terminated.
But there is almost always a team that the advisor leaves behind—and there’s little that’s been written which speaks to them. And for these folks, the termination creates a wave of disruption and concern over potential vulnerabilities, leaving them saddled with emotional and professional unrest.
As a partner or member of a team where a key player was terminated, you’ll likely find yourself wondering what it is you need to think about. Ultimately, the goal is to determine if this partnership is worth maintaining and re-establishing elsewhere. But, where do you start?
Here are 7 action items that can help you clarify your position:
- First and foremost: Be sure all client relationships are solid. Make the clients aware of the situation and let them know that you are their link to stability and continuity. Assess their responses and use that to guide your next steps in the relationship.
- Assess your own vulnerability. Determine if your position at the firm is in any way jeopardized due to your connection to the terminated advisor.
- Take the emotion out of the situation. Form your own objective conclusion as to whether this termination was justified.
- Decide where you stand. Consider whether you support the actions of the firm or the advisor. This will help to clarify your next steps.
- Assess the real value of the terminated advisor to the business. You’ll need to establish how important the advisor was to the business—and if it can thrive without him.
- Consider how best to move forward. Decide if you are better off staying put and rebuilding without the key partner or would be best served by re-joining him at a new firm.
- Wait for the dust to settle. No decision should be made in haste. Take some time to get educated about the options available as you gauge response from your firm, the team and your clients.
When a valued partner is dismissed, it can rock even the strongest of teams. As the shock of the situation wears off, you will need to determine what is best for the business—because you have now become its de facto steward.
That means looking closely at your current firm and weighing it against other prospective opportunities. Then think about your own role as an employee of your firm: Will you feel well-supported in your abilities to service your clients and grow the business going forward? Or will you be looking over your shoulder, waiting for another shoe to drop?
The reality is that while situations like this will cause a disequilibrium for some time, if you take an active role in redefining the future of the business, you will find a new and better normal.