Throughout our “deal” discussion it has been clear that my principal advice has focused on your ability to professionally take control of the process. Presenting yourself and your practice in a positive light takes a bit of effort on your part – a bit of recruiting if you may – but certainly will bear significant fruit as the process comes to a close. With that in mind let’s take a look at one of the final steps in the recruiting journey: extras.
While the dollars and cents of the deal make up the lions share of any negotiation there is generally a 10% or so gap left to fill with issues that may be important to yourself, your clients and your staff that can’t be quantified with money. These issues may be critical to the way your practice operates; thus making them vital to client transition and retention over the course of a recruitment and potential move to a new firm. Generally they fall into four categories: administrative compensation, office setup and location, external software, T/E budget.
- Administrative compensation : This is quite possibly the most critical “extra” to get right. Most advisors/teams have a trusted admin or multiple admins that handle clients on a daily basis. These folks have become a trusted part of your brand and should be treated as such. Negotiating raises, bonuses (allotted by yourself or negotiated with the firm you are joining), health insurance and office space are vital to these important employees. If you ignore this step or take their particular allegiance to a potential move as a foregone conclusion – you could end up with an undesired surprise come moving day. Talk to your staff and include them in the process.
- Office setup : This is pretty self explanatory. As the newest “belle at the ball” you will find yourself with multiple options when it comes to office space. Depending on your production level, you may find that the manager will move other advisors to make room for you and your team. This can be a bit tricky – and if it is the case, find out and go out of your way to make nice with the newly displaced. Keep a sharp eye when it comes to your new office environment that it resembles (as best it can) your old one. Clients will be dealing with enough change – setting up your new digs in a similar fashion to your old ones will provide a bit of comfort.
- External software : Here is where the issue of cost arises once again. Generally speaking, external software requests are an ongoing cost (as opposed to a one time cost) and have to be approved at some level of compliance. If it is important to your practice/clients and to your success then you have every right to include it in the negotiation. As mentioned, every ounce of familiarity for clients in any move is a good thing.
- Travel and Expense : All firms have some sort of production based travel and expense account set up. The question is, do you need more than that throughout a certain portion of your transition? An increase in your T/E budget throughout the first 6 – 18 months at your new firm is not out of bounds. Certain clients may need a little extra touch or two to convince them that your new firm is all you say it is. Extra T/E will go a long way to making that happen.
These items will go a long way to keeping your staff and clients happy in any transition. And given that those two groups make up a sizable percentage of your teams revenue, assets and operations – clearly it makes sense to be certain that they are well taken care of every step of the way.
Andrew Parish is the CEO and founder of AdvisorHUB and managing director of Axiom Consulting. Follow him@APadvisorhub