In our final installment we come to the ultimate conclusion - moving day. There are critical moments leading up to and on moving day. Whether it is passing everything through in house and external legal counsel or dealing with colleagues and management at your previous firm; each step is critical to finalizing your move to a new firm.
The legalities of any move are generally spelled out in the broker protocol. Most conversations with counsel will focus on the “do’s and don’ts” inherent in the protocol. What you can take with you and what you simply cannot. If both firms are part of the decade old protocol agreement (and a sizable portion of the industry is) the legal discussion is pretty straight forward. The issues arise when a given firm is NOT a part of protocol. In these situations the conversations with counsel are a bit more intense and significantly more important (not to mention advisors from non protocol firms usually get a less than premium deal). Take significant care in your conversation with in house counsel at the firm you may be joining as well as your own attorney. Make sure that all parties are on the same page and some sort of “indemnification” is discussed or implemented. Finding yourself in a protracted legal battle after you’ve made a move can be a serious distraction (although, generally, it isn’t that big of a deal legally. The firm you are joining has read the tea leaves and is nearly always prepared to cut some sort of settlement at some point). Either way – the legal conversion should be given its due consideration.
Dealing with colleagues and management on the day of your departure can go a million different ways. By the book, you will simply announce your resignation and walk out the door, immediately calling clients. Most separations are generally not that easy. You have probably built long lasting friendships in the firm that you are leaving and may have a hard time turning your back on those relationships. Here is a tip: Do not allow those emotions to get in the way of the decision you have made on behalf of your clients to better your practice. Most managers will use any tactic they can, in a bit of a panic, to keep you. Be professional, polite and play by the (protocol) rules. Getting in touch with former colleagues and even management a few weeks later is the right play. You will find out very quickly who your real friends are, based on whether or not they aggressively go after your clients. A few weeks after your move you will have a good idea regarding who you may want to stay in touch with and who you may not.
Moving day should be no more difficult than another exciting day at the office. Your new firm should spend resources on your transition so that all you are doing is making important calls/visits with your clients. The paperwork should be organized and prepared in a way that your staff (and assisting staff at your new firm) can quickly send it out and wait on its return.
Six steps. Six decisions. Six conversations. Six choices. Six evaluations. Six months. The Art of the Deal can be as simple or as complicated as you decide to make it. Generally, the advisor/teams that are matter of fact and deliberate in their decision making get the best deal and have the most successful transitions. Here’s to hoping you do the same.
Andrew Parish is the CEO and founder of AdvisorHUB and managing director of Axiom Consulting. Follow him@APadvisorhub