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The 6 Common Mistakes Advisors Make During a Move

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6 Common Mistakes Advisors Make During a Move—And How to Steer Clear of Them

We spend plenty of time counseling advisors on dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s when planning a move. However, an advisor recently posed a question to me that made me think. He asked, “What are the things that can go wrong when making a move?”

While there’s no shortage of advisors and teams who have successfully changed firms or left the traditional brokerages for the freedom of independence, there are many moving parts to any transition. How do you ensure that a move goes smoothly, with the least amount of disruption to your business and clients?

Here are the 6 most common mistakes I’ve seen advisors make:

  1. Not knowing what you really want
    Many advisors leap into exploration mode without first giving serious thought to what they’re looking to solve for. So before you even get started, you’ll need to dig deep and answer some important questions, including:

What frustrates me about my current firm? And what would I like to replicate?
What do I hope to accomplish by changing firms?
How will this move benefit my clients? What can the new firm provide my clients that my current one cannot?
Will a new firm offer opportunities to grow, opportunities that perhaps are lacking where I am now?

  1. Not doing your due diligence
    Due diligence is arguably the most critical step in the exploration process. Is changing firms enough, or is it time to consider a change in model? Take the time to get educated and understand all the possibilities, whether independence, a regional firm, another wirehouse or any of the myriad of options in between.
  2. Being blinded by the big check
    While recruiting deals can be outsized and pretty tempting, making a move solely for the upfront check is a mistake. The reality is that transition money is only one facet of a move. Your primary focus should be about alleviating frustrations and finding an opportunity that allows you to grow your business more efficiently and better serve your clients. And, because there are so many options in the independent space that are much less about short-term upside and more about long-term value creation, it’s especially important to be certain that the firm offering the most money is also the best place for you and your clients.
  3. Running away from your frustrations, not towards your goals
    The most successful advisor moves happen when the advisor moves toward something better, feeling the pull of another firm or model. Simply wanting to leave your current firm isn’t enough of a reason to subject your business and clients to the upheaval of a move. You must be able to articulate to your clients why you chose to move. Make sure you’re moving to something better for both sides of the table.
  4. Not checking in with your partners
    Far too often, we find that advisors don’t communicate enough with their team members, assuming they’re all in agreement as to priorities, frustrations, how entrepreneurial-minded they are, and their projected timeline. But that’s not always the case. As in any relationship, being honest about current concerns and future goals is critical. By regularly “checking in” with your partners, you can avoid surprises about the direction you want to take the business in.
  5. Not having a “Plan B”
    Even advisors who are content and growing should remain educated on available options. Both the landscape and the regulatory environment are rapidly changing, and it’s important to stay current. The best time to do your due diligence – “armchair exploration” if you will – is before you have a reason to move.

Related: A 10-Point Exercise for Advisors to Find Your Best Business Life

The truth is, the vast majority of advisors are hardworking, truthful people with fiduciary mindsets—their goal is to do right by their clients. Exploring your options is not disloyal to your current firm, and in the process you may discover that you are indeed in the right place for your business and your clients. If that happens, great! You’re choosing to stay from a position of knowledge and strength.

If you are considering a move, keeping these potential pitfalls in mind will help ensure that you’re covering your bases and doing what you can to help things go smoothly along the way as you progress down the path towards your Best Business Life.

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