Taking the First Step


In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.Theodore Roosevelt

Some advisors stay at a firm where they’re not satisfied because they find the process of deciding where to go next daunting. And it’s true, advisors have plenty of options. But instead of feeling overwhelmed or unnerved by having to choose, recognize the situation for what it is – a great opportunity. If you’re thinking about making a change, let’s walk through some of the factors you’ll want to consider.

As you embark on this process, remember that many firms are working hard to position themselves as a “great choice” for a wide range of advisors. Other firms offer a range of affiliation options under that same umbrella. And social media is full of a lot of talk. Don’t be distracted by their sales pitches.

Here are a few questions to help you sort your options:

  • Do you want to be an independent firm compensated via 1099 or be an employee getting a W2?
  • Do you have a custodian you like or are you willing to change custodians?
  • Are you looking for back office infrastructure, process and resources?
  • Or do you just want technology, investment services and infrastructure?

Once you’ve answered those questions, here’s a quick overview of the range of choices you’ll encounter.

  • Some firms buy up smaller established advisory firms, rebrand them with the parent brand and add resources and economies of scale from the larger entity. When you join them, you take on their brand, their process and follow their rules.
  • Other firms help advisory teams leave wirehouses and join the larger firm. You work as an employee and benefit from an established brand and existing processes, but you follow their rules.
  • There are firms that buy smaller firms, but don’t ask them to take on the mother brand. The acquired firm still benefits from established procedures and processes.
  • And then there are firms that just provide services on a contract basis for a fee.

To make the best choice for you, think carefully about your current situation, what it’s lacking and what your goals are going forward. Specifically:

  • Does your advisory practice already have a strong brand and a steady stream of new clients that the brand attracts? If so, you will want to maintain this valuable asset.
  • Do you have a team with dedicated personnel for back office and support functions? If so, you don’t need to pay somebody else for those capabilities.
  • Do you want to be a W-2 employee and have the back office responsible for payroll taxes and have the option of group medical insurance? Then a larger group might serve your needs.

Having plenty of choices is a good thing even if it does take a little more time to sort out. I can help you review your priorities and explore your options step by step. Once you decide, I can also help negotiate a competitive package to make the most of your choice.

If you’ve been thinking about making a change, now’s the time to act.If you’d like some help figuring it out, give me a call. I’m always happy to talk.