Finally Indy!

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indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Finally after 7 months of researching & planning I'm officially part of the indy world. Said goodby to AGE/Wachovia (although I have nothing bad to say about AGE but it was time to move on). My first week was like drinking out of a fire house but every day got better. I certainly realized I had way too unrealistic of a timeline to transfer accounts/clients. I assumed I could get a hold of clients in a week and get most of the accounts ACAT'd right away but that's not the case.

 
So far I've only had 2 clients who said they would like to get together and learn more about our BD (LPL) prior to moving but I'm pretty sure those will go well. I've been able to reach about 90% of my clients and things look good. So far, none of them have been contacted by my old branch.
 
The hardest part.... Learning all the new system and getting the accounts opened, packets printed and mailed and doing the follow up. I was always told that this process would suck but I didn't realize just how much work it would be. It does feel great to be on my own though.
 
Now to week 2.

troll's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-29

Congrats and good luck.  Just take it one step at a time, and try to take down notes for questions to ask the service center folks so you can handle them in 2-3 phone calls a day, instead of calling constantly.  Saves everyone some time.Just keep making contacts with your clients during normal business hours, and save the paperwork for evenings and early mornings.

bspears's picture
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Joined: 2006-11-08

Good luck Indywanab, and welcome.  Keep your head down for the next 6 months....and please timeblock at least and 1hr per day to prospect.  This will hopefully help the cashflow, as the transfers produce little income early on.  I was fortunate to have some large tickets flow through and business from my transfers.  But you can't count on this..so however you were bringing in business before, continue to do this just a little. 

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Thanks for the tips. My existing book is primarilly fee based advisory so my focus IS to bring them over so my fees can start up again. I already have 3 meetings schedule with referrals from existing clients that were waiting till our move to meet so I totally agree that I must also keep the prospecting piece moving along but it sure is nice to know that I have steady income from advisory fees coming in too.

IndyEDJ's picture
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Joined: 2006-12-13

It is the first 6 weeks that are the most difficult that I have found.  The majority of the clients that moved came during that time period.  Best of luck with your move.
 
IndyEDJ

Indyone's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-31

Congratulations on your move.  Hard work early on will pay off big later so keep your head down and hammer hard.  Two and a half years later, some accounts are still trickling in, but the early wins were crucial for me.

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Wow. I'm almost done w/ my second week and boy was this a lot more work than I ever expected. By far the paperwork is just an extreme pain. Then again I'm probably handling it differently than I should have... I opted to do ALL paperwork (account opening, ACAT, advisory agreements, BD change forms, etc...) in one shot vs. just focusing on the account opening and ACAT forms because since most of my business is advisory I wanted to make sure those assets were billable as soon as they transferred and to avoid having to deal with 2 rounds of meetings/paperwork but does it slow down the process! My biggest regret/mistake was not lining up my assistant to start the same time or prior to me. At this point we had already made arrangements for her to start after the new year so it was too late for us to change this after I got some last minute advice. This is certainly hurting me and slowing down the process but it is what it is. Can't wait to have her onboard full time though!
I've spoken with all my clients and have gotten a go from every single one but 2 at this point. Luckily the 2 are B clients and one of I had doubts about one of them already. On the same token I've had one my A clients ask me if we can look into taking over their 2 family trust account from the bank and those 2 (if we can fire the current corp trustee) would amount to $2MM, more than making up for the 2 B clients. I also just got word that we won a proposal to manage a $3MM 401K so that was a client I did not have either. Things are looking good but I just can't wait to get through this transition process.
 
Dealing with setting up the business has also been a pain. IT setup and issues (the IT guy is coming in today for a new glitch), payroll and employee benefit decisions, etc... I can see light at the end of the tunnel and it already feels great (I've even had 2 guys from my old office come by to check out the place) so I'm looking forward to the future.

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

IndyWana....congrats on the move!!!  Please keep us posted as to how things go....hopefully I will be in your shoes within a few months.

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Thanks Pinbroker.
 
Things are going better than expected but there sure is a lot to learn going from employee to employer. In terms of the transition we have or are in the process of brining over every single client we asked to come over with us except for 1. The one client I ended up firing so no surprises there.
 
We still don't have all the assets at our new place because it just takes time to prepare and get the darn packets out but we're making progress and are ahead of where I thought we'd be by now. My assistant/paraplanner starts with me next week so that will make my life a heck of a lot easier.
 
No legal issues with my prior BD (AGE/Wachovia) and I'm hoping it stays that way. It feels good now that I've made the move. I've already had the opportunity to meet with 3 referrals and my concern about what potential clients may think of me not being part of a wirehouse has not been an issue. I prepared a solid "pitch" on the benefit of working with us and how we're supported by a large firm (LPL) and although I hear a lot of indies who say that sort of stuff does not matter I really think it does. If you're working with affluent and/or educated clients they expect their advisor to be supported by a larger infrastructure and they also want to know that their is oversight as well. So anyone planning on going indy from a wirehouse make sure you have a good story to tell that explains the relationship between your firm and the BD you affiliate with and highlight their strengths and benefit and how the client wins because of that. I'm relating to our new BD (LPL) as our strategic partner and back office and making sure clients know their money is with them and that we are part of their network but that we have autonomy and independence so that the client is our only priority.

Roadhard's picture
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Joined: 2007-02-23

It does get better--now you got to pass the 24--that's a pain too!  Hope all is going well for you.  I've been gone 8 months now and last week I had 5 of my former clients call to transfer--they held out a long time--but I ran into all of them over the holidays at the stores and dinner--a little normal conversation goes a long way!

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

Indy,
Regarding the retention money from WS/AGE.  I am assuming you paid them back or didnt take all the money upfront?  Did they come after you in anyway?
Did LPL have any sort of marketing material that you could give to clients to explain about LPL as your BD??
 
Waiting in the wings in VA!
Pinn

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

I did not take the upfront bonus and left prior to February when option number 2 would have paid my first installment. Regarding your second question, yes I prepared a kit for clients that included some good info on LPL & their capabilities BUT I really focused the material on us (my team not just the BD). I wanted to make sure my clients understood the fact that it's us who they hire and provides the value and experience they've enjoyed not the BD. I recommend you come up w/ a story that does this too vs. just selling them on your new BD.

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

BTW... It's one month now and AGE/WS has not come after me yet but I had some unique circumstances that I really don't want to share publicly on this site. I will tell you that I was one of the advisors WS WANTED to retain so maybe that gives you some comfort. Certainly there's a smart way and a dumb way to move from your current BD to avoid problems.

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

Indy...
 
If you have time...how about an update???   Just curious to see how things are going.
 
Pin

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Things are going well. I have moved all the clients. We only lost 2 of them. One we fired and the other one we expected to lose since he's made a career move and is now Series 7 licensed so no big surprise there. The folks at LPL have been pretty great to deal w/ as compared to AGE but no place is perfect.
AGE/Wachovia did come after me after all for my training agreement. LPL's legal department is dealing with them to negotiate this down and I expect that to be the case. No complaints from clients regarding the move and/or LPL. We really do love their technology and the attitude of the people on the phone when you call them. That's probably the best thing I can say about the move.
 
There is a lot more to deal w/ when you go on your own but no surprises there either. Now our focus will be on learning our new financial planning technology (eMoney/Wealthvision) and getting back to taking care of our clients and building from here.
 
BTW- I got my first production check from LPL. I must say the SIGNIFICANTLY higher payout really feels good and makes all the little hassles with the move worth it. 

Indyone's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-31

Congratulations on a successful move...to only lose two clients is an exceptional record and shows you planned your move very well.  I had a similar experience with my move to LPL (although I didn't take the high percentage of clients you did) and have been well-pleased with the change, although I have noticed some growing pains over the past six months or so.  As you said, not perfect, but I appreciate their can-do attitude.

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

To get picky....how is the bond inventory at LPL?  CD inventory?I am sure there are ticket charges on these also?

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

I've never done a lot of bonds/CD's so I'm sure someone else can do a better job at answering this but what I have noticed is that they seem to have a lot more auction rate securities than I saw at AGE. Yes there are transaction charges. I do mostly SAM advisory business so any transaction charge is paid by the client.

Indyone's picture
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Joined: 2005-05-31

LPL doesn't keep inventory, but is tied into a national system that shows a lot of bonds from many different dealers.  There are plenty of offerings to choose from, the downside is that pricing may not be quite as good, due to another firm marking bonds.  CDs are the same as anyone from what I can see.
 
Yes, there are ticket charges.  Because of that, I keep my bond minimum higher...usually at least $25K.

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

THANKS for all of the information from you both!!!

rexy's picture
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Joined: 2008-02-22

As an idea, this may be a great time to take your business to a fee based model, if you aren't already.  I am at Commonwealth, but I looked hard at LPL, a great firm, and they have a great fee based platform.

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

rexy wrote:
As an idea, this may be a great time to take your business to a fee based model, if you aren't already.  I am at Commonwealth, but I looked hard at LPL, a great firm, and they have a great fee based platform.
 
Actually my business is already 100% fee based. What I'm now looking to add is charging for financial planning and wealth management on a separate basis. I too looked very hard at Commonwealth and really liked them. It was a tough decision.

Lance_Best's picture
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Joined: 2007-10-22

What type of marketing are you doing and what is providing the best results?

brain.ra's picture
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Joined: 2008-02-20

Out of curiosity, what type of exprience would you recommend an advisor have before they went indy?  #of clients, AUM, etc.?

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

Hows the transition going IndyWanaB?   Been awhile since we have heard from you.

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

PinBroker wrote:
Hows the transition going IndyWanaB?   Been awhile since we have heard from you.
 
I guess it's been a while since my last update... I'm glad to report that the transition is finalized. All in all it took about 6 weeks to "move" all our clients and most of the assets. Transition is a lot of work though. After assets and accounts are transferred there's a lot of little stuff such as verifying that all accounts moved and that there are no residual amounts at the old firm (we did find quite a few number of accounts that were not fully moved so this was an ongoing project). There's also annuities & managed futures to reregister, automatic deposits/withdrawals and automatic mutual fund purchases to re-establish so all in all there's just a lot of operational things that need to happen. Luckily I have someone that took care of all that allowing me to focus on other things.
 
Overall I'm very happy with the move and with LPL as a whole. The attitude of the people at the home office is great. There are some things I get frustrated at such as the organization of the info on the resource center (website) and the fact that they seem to roll out software w/o fully testing to find glitches (although I believe this is changing ever since they replaced their CIO. The positive thing about that is that I've actually received calls from executives within the organization to discuss the issues that I don't like and share w/ me what they are working on in order to improve those things. Every time I get one of those types of calls it just blows my mind. At my prior firm that would never have happened and it does show their interest in improving and providing good service to advisors. Are they perfect? No but then again what large scale BD is?
 
Compliance has been great. It's great to have a compliance department that actually helps you get things approved that will help your business as opposed to simply denying anything that's not their cookie cutter language. If you're looking to build a unique brand and message I think this is a key advantage vs. the wirehouses.
 
So overall I'm very pleased with my move. Now I'm focusing on getting back to growing my business while my planning specialist focuses on transitioning our existing clients into our new financial planning application (wealthvision/eMoney).

PinBroker's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-17

Good job on getting everything done in 6 weeks.  Hopefully someday I will be in your shoes!Waiting in VA

indywanab's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-12

Good luck w/ your move.

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