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Avoiding the Risks in Waiting for That Perfect “Go Date”


You’ve done your due diligence and made a decision, but you have yet to set a move date. What are you waiting for?

Who doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it, too? However, in an imperfect world such as ours, trying to satisfy all your needs at once typically leaves you in a holding pattern. And this is often true for advisors when planning a move: The one place that many get stuck at is trying to identify that perfect “go date.”

The reality is that there is no perfect time to pull the trigger. In fact, once you’ve been through the due diligence process and have identified a better solution for your business and clients, waiting to set the date adds more layers of risk to the process—making yourself vulnerable to those things that you cannot control. Yet, more often than not, advisors still hesitate.

Getting stuck around finding that perfect date is typically inertia, driven by fear and packaged in an excuse that may or may not have some level of plausibility. The most common ones we hear include:

“I don’t want to leave chips on the table.”

 “The market is too volatile right now.”

“I’m not sure my staff is ready.”

“After tax season.”

“When I get back from vacation.”

“Once the new year passes…”

We’ve heard them all! Realize that once you’ve made a commitment, you have to seriously consider the long-term upside of the move vs. any short-term loss—whether it’s chips left on the table, a vacation that gets rescheduled, or even concerns over staff preparedness. Ultimately, the ability to better serve your clients and grow your business in the longer-term should be your goal.

The Risks in Waiting

All moves come with some level of uncertainty—the most critical of which is typically whether or not clients will follow. But if you have strong relationships with your clients – and the move is being made in order to better serve them – then the expectation is that most will indeed move with you. That said, delaying a move only prolongs the inevitable and can distract you from the day-to-day of serving your clients to the best of your abilities—adding the potential of putting strain on your relationships.

While managing your clients is something that you have some control over, changes at your firm or the industry at large are well outside of your grasp. For example, UBS’ and Morgan Stanley’s departures from the Protocol flipped the switch on advisors moving from those firms, creating more significant hurdles and added costs. The addition of garden leave and other tactics used to further bind advisors to their firms can happen without notice—and put wrinkles in a plan where you least expect it.

Related: Five Ways to Look Better to a Seller

And one of the biggest risks lies in your firm finding out that you’re looking to leave. In this hyper-vigilant world, it is not uncommon to be put under a much stronger microscope where minor infractions can suddenly become major blemishes. Keeping the process discreet can be difficult; adding time increases the burden—and the potential for exposure.

The truth of the matter is that there is never going to be the perfect time to make a move. If you are doing so because you believe that you can better serve clients and grow your business elsewhere, then every day you delay, you’re leaving chips on the table.

So once you’ve completed your due diligence and made the decision to go, choose a date that makes sense to move in partnership with the firm you are joining. And by all means, exercise flexibility and take a big picture view—because that will get you further than waiting for perfection.

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