How to Determine if it's Time to Stay or Go

A 2-part exercise for advisors that helps to identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

There is no time like the present to take a step back and revisit your goals—and the plan to achieve them.Stopping to back up the train means clearing your mind and visualizing where it is that you’re trying to go and why. Essentially, it gives you the permission needed to re-vet the expectations you have of yourself, your firm and your future.We’ve found that this 2-step process has been effective for the advisors we work with. It’s equally effective for those who are actively exploring their options and those who feel satisfied with the status quo—and the clarity they gained helped them to decide whether to stay put or to move elsewhere.

Step 1: Visualize a Perfect World

Picture in your mind a blank slate where you can create what your “ideal” business model looks like—that is, one where you can best serve your clients and grow your business. Don’t limit yourself to what’s familiar, but rather allow yourself to dream big. So, considering this ideal scenario, ask yourself:
  • What does your business life look like?
  • Are you managing clients and growing your business in the same way that you do now?
  • Are you offering additional services to clients?
  • Do you have additional support staff?
  • Are you at the same firm?
  • In this visualization, you may find that things look similar to where you are now—and if so, you haven’t wasted your time. It’s simply verifying that the status quo works and allows you to remain loyal from a position of strength. However, if the ideal view looks different than your current scenario, it’s time to find out why.

    Step 2: Identify the Gap Between the Ideal and Your Current Reality

    Considering where you are now, ask yourself the following:
  • What are the things you like about your firm?
  • Are there things about your firm that you don’t like or that frustrate you?
  • Do you feel limited in your ability to serve your clients and grow your business—and if so, how limited?
  • Is your firm providing the support that allows you to best serve your clients and grow your business?
  • Does the technology, platform and products offered by your firm enhance the client experience and business growth?
  • Are you fully able to act as a fiduciary to your clients?
  • Thinking longer term, what makes you optimistic about your ability to continually grow your business at your firm?
  • After answering these questions, you may find that there are positive attributes about your firm, as well as some negative ones. And that’s completely normal. The delta between where you are now and where you want to be – “the gap” – is what you need to focus on. The larger the gap, the more indicative it is that a move may be necessary to fill the void.Yet fear, inertia, and the belief that there isn’t an option better enough elsewhere often trap us in an indolent state and prevent advisors from recognizing how the gaps can negatively affect their business lives. So, many get stuck, never truly aligning the present with what they envision as a better, more perfect future. That’s why we believe it’s productive for every advisor – no matter how great a year they’ve had – to go through this process.If after this exercise, you find yourself with a renewed sense of empowerment and clarity, then you’re off to a great start. If you find there is a gap, then take the time to understand your options—armed with knowledge and clarity that you may not have had before.Related: Exploring the Independent Broker Dealer Space