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How to Decide If Changing Firms – Again – Is the Right Thing for You and Your Clients


Is another move worth the risk?

For most advisors, the thought of making a move is met with both excitement and a certain level of trepidation. The promise of being able to better serve your clients and grow your business provides the energy needed to juggle all the moving parts that come with such a major change—with concerns over client portability at the top of that list. But, if client relationships are strong and the move is being made for all the right reasons, clients are very likely to follow. Once the dust has settled, advisors and their clients are typically happy with the decision and life goes on.

Like anything else, though, things can change over time. And especially at a point when life for advisors at big brokerage firms is becoming more bureaucratic, you may realize that the firm you once risked it all for in a prior move no longer serves you – or your clients – best.

Pushed or Pulled?

There are two common reasons that may drive an advisor to entertain a move again: We refer to them as the “pushes” and the “pulls.” You may find you are feeling “pushed” by changes, frustrations or limitations at your firm. Or it could be that the expanded waterfall of opportunities – which was likely more limited the first time you moved – may be “pulling” you towards a better way to manage your clients and build your business.

With a landscape that has vastly changed, an advisor now has many more choices on where and how to best grow his business—and ultimately, it’s not uncommon to make more than one move in your professional lifetime. But each additional move requires you to be more thoughtful and strategic.

While clients may have weathered your first move seemingly without issue, with every subsequent move, “client fatigue” can take hold—pushing their limits and their patience. And explaining this next move, even with the best intentions, can be trickier for the advisor.

So, before you entertain another change of firms or models, here are 3 things you need to address.

1. Assess the “real frustration” level

Are the frustrations impacting just you, or are they spilling over to your clients as well? Is your ability to best serve your clients being limited, or has additional bureaucracy become an annoyance that you’re trying to run from? For sure, many advisors don’t want to deal with the changes they’re seeing at their firms, but you must determine if said changes have truly impacted your ability to do your job and grow the way you want to.

Related: Push vs. Pull: The Key Drivers Behind a Move to Independence

Related: Advisors and Their Affluent Clients are No Longer Looking the Other Way When it Comes to Independence

2. Get educated about the current landscape

As you learn more about the expanded waterfall of opportunities, ask yourself, “If I were to make a move, what’s in it for my clients?” and use the answers to determine if a move is really warranted. Evaluate the potential benefits to clients versus where you are now. A move should only be made if the difference is more than “better enough” for all involved.

3. You need to be super-clear about the “why” behind another move

Are you considering a move with a goal to better serve your clients, or is this simply an opportunity to re-monetize? Think this one through carefully: The short-term monetary gain might not be worth the longer-term risk of client attrition. Clients will need to be presented with an airtight case for why this move is going to be more than marginally better for them, not you.

The reality is that making more than one move is not uncommon—particularly in a landscape that has changed and expanded so dramatically over the past decade. But keep in mind that while most of your clients may have followed you in a previous move, the bar gets much higher for them with subsequent ones.

However, even though the bar raises, a move for the right reasons can be a smart one. A clear understanding of your own motives and the ability to communicate the real value another move represents to your clients is key to starting a new – and better chapter – in your business life.

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