Finding teammates is no small task. You need to be compatible both personally and professionally; you need to have common goals and a common business philosophy; you need to have complimentary expertise. Obviously, it's best if you can find someone who fits your needs right in your own office. But what if you can't, and relocation is not an option? You might try looking at other firms, particularly independent b/ds. Unlike at the wirehouses, which prefer not to do any direct matchmaking themselves, many of the independent b/ds will help potential recruits find a good fit with a team or partner even before the rep actually signs on with the firm.

Take Jack, an advisor in his early thirties who works at a small branch of a wirehouse firm in the Southeast, generating approximately $475,000 in mostly fee-based revenues a year. Jack decided that he had reached an impasse in his business, and the only way he would be able to achieve further growth would be to form a team with one or more other advisors. He knew that he was a great “closer” of business and a top money manager, but he needed someone to aggressively prospect for him; something he no longer had the time or inclination to do.

Unfortunately, because of the size of his office and a lack of other local branches at his firm, the pickings were slim. Of the other 18 advisors in his office, some were already in longstanding partnerships and were not looking to add to their teams; some were working individually but already had succession plans in place for retirement; some had highly transactional business models that didn't mesh with his own; and finally, two advisors in the office did not have clean compliance records. He explored additional opportunities in his firm's offices in surrounding towns, but he saw more of the same.

Jack's only other option was to try the local offices of rival firms. But when he approached wirehouse branch managers they told him they couldn't “arrange marriages” between brokers and recruits. Wirehouse firms have a different vision of the relationship between the firm and the advisor than independent b/ds do, and they prefer a recruit to put the firm first, team second.

“We want an advisor to join our firm, work here for a while, develop his practice, and get to know the other players in the office by assessing and interviewing each other for a while,” says Ryan, a wirehouse manager from New England.

Independent firms seem to have a different philosophy, as Jack soon learned. Jack was introduced to Glen, director of recruiting for the independent arm of a major national firm. To Jack's delight, Glen was as excited as he was about the prospect of finding him possible team/partner candidates. In fact, Glen was more than happy to act as a “matchmaker.”

Independent b/ds generally believe that bringing experienced advisors into existing teams cuts down transition and assimilation time considerably. This is also great for the advisor who wants the autonomy and flexibility offered by an independent b/d, but who doesn't want to be a solo business owner. Plus, when the firms encourage new members to join existing teams, long-tenured advisors feel that the firm is as committed to helping them grow as it is to recruiting new producers.

Glen introduced Jack to several advisors clearing through the b/d, including Ken, an FA who is a few years older than Jack. Ken and Jack shared a similar investment philosophy and a laid-back style and they quickly connected. Ken was the “prospecting machine” that Jack was looking for. So Jack decided to make the move to the independent firm, and joined Ken as an equal partner. They hired a registered sales assistant, and have positioned themselves to take advantage of each of their individual strengths. In the end, it was just what Jack had wanted.

Writer' BIO: Mindy Diamond founded Chester, N.J.-based Diamond Consultants, which specializes in retail brokerage and banking recruiting