Whether you are thinking of going independent, changing broker-dealers or just want to confirm your current business platform is right for you, there are four critical areas to analyze.

1. Technology – Does your firm provide excellence in technology and embrace a philosophy of continual innovation?

From email to databases to operations, your technology should be seamless and easy to use. A firm should offer an integrated technology platform that is highly efficient and responsive to your needs. Time-consuming processes—such as account opening and management, document imaging, transaction execution and account rebalancing—should be automated to improve efficiency and accuracy so you can focus on growing

2. Compliance – Does your current affiliation provide flexible and responsive compliance?

In this ever-evolving regulatory environment, keeping on top of the many diverse and complex compliance requirements is a challenge. Your firm should be able to provide an understanding of various regulations and how to work within them to achieve your goals—both for your clients and for your practice. Integrating compliance functionality into your practice and enabling many compliance procedures to be fully automated, allows you to focus on servicing current clients and prospecting for new, rather than on logistics.

3. Marketing Support – Do you receive quality marketing and branding to help you build fruitful relationships and stand out in a busy marketplace? Does it help you enhance and deepen your brand and work to define your difference?

Your marketing should help grow your business with good prospecting practices and your firm should be able to provide a full range of expert communications. From customizable, logo-ready brochures to letters and seminar invitations along with other marketing materials, you should have the tools at your fingertips to make your practice stand out. In addition, does your firm help with strategic alliances to build your business and gain access to new clients with a developed networking alliance of associated professionals?

4. Responsive Customer Service – Do you have a dedicated, committed customer service team behind your practice?

It is vital to your success to have enough staff in place to immediately answer any questions and provide the back-office service and support you need. From assistance with technology to answering questions on products, an accessible, knowledgeable customer service team should make every process simple so you can focus your time and energy on clients.

Compiling this amount of broker-dealer due diligence can be daunting. But, breaking your search down to these four core areas provides a blueprint for evaluation.

Knowing your real cost of doing business may indicate it’s time to make a change or it may reassure you are right where you need to be. Either way, you are better off having the answers and the numbers in hand.