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Why an Increasing Number of Advisors and Teams Are Moving by Choice

The motivation for many advisors who are moving these days has been gravitating from a “push” to more of a “pull”

There’s no doubt we’re seeing a lot of advisor movement these days. Yet, what’s most striking about these moves is the reason why. That is, what’s inspiring advisors to jump ship from where they’ve built their life’s business to pursue other firms or even business models?

Historically, the majority of advisors who were considering a move did so when they felt that the frustrations at their current firm were “pushing” them to seek a different option. Put another way, they moved when the proverbial straw broke the camel’s back. Increased bureaucracy, changes in management, technology and platform bottlenecks— these issues were once typically resolved either by changing jerseys and bringing home an outsized check, or taking a different turn and going independent.

Instead, today, we are seeing an increasing number of advisors and teams who are being “pulled” towards new opportunities—that is, moving by choice.

So what’s “pulling” advisors elsewhere?

Change often comes about when the pain has become so great, that one decides “it’s time”. But when pain isn’t the motivator, what is?


With an industry landscape that has transformed quite dramatically, we now have a new reality of opportunities that never existed before. And I’ve certainly shared plenty on the variety of options in the new industry landscape . So for those advisors and teams who have felt the tug of their entrepreneurial spirit – and desire greater freedom, flexibility and control – there are now many flavors of independence that offer them a chance to make a move that can result in a better way to serve their clients and their own business life. Whether they’re looking to build an enterprise with the highest level of customization and choose the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) model, or prefer the support, “cover” and familiarity found within an independent broker dealer (IBD), they would still experience the ability to grow in a far less restrictive environment. ( Read more about the 5 key differences between the IBD and RIA spaces. )

And with the DoL tossing informational grenades such as the recent FAQs , the playing field has certainly been leveled when it comes to comparing transition economics between the wirehouse and independent spaces—which was once one of the primary reasons that advisors stayed within the wirehouse world. (The DoL’s stance viewing revenue and asset based back end bonuses as creating potential conflicts of interest has forced all firms to restructure their deals, making them, in many cases, much less attractive than before.) We’re already seeing signs of an increase in movement towards the RIA space as a result of these changes.

When does push come to shove?

Certainly, we’re all feeling the effects of the DoL rule; hardly a day goes by where there’s not an announcement of another firm responding to the new regulations. If a firm becomes more bureaucratic as a result of changing regulations – especially for those at a big firm that must manage to the lowest common denominator – that push for advisors is likely to become more of a shove towards another firm or model.

Alternatively, advisors may consider that this signals it’s simply time to move on, feeling more of a pull towards the fee-only or hybrid-RIA space—now looking more attractive as the uber-recruiting deals disappear.

The fact of the matter remains that even when you’re experiencing more of a pull than a push, there are almost always some pushes—often described as a build-up of minor frustrations. While those seemingly benign twinges may serve as the impetus to even consider other options, the real antagonist is the strong desire – the pull – for change.

The new reality we find ourselves in has us all looking at things very differently from the way we did in the past. And the decision-making process that one goes through when considering a move hasn’t gotten any easier. But the good news is that you don’t have to wait until you feel pushed. That little tug you’re feeling now may be all that you need to start the exploration process.