Starting to look for a new job can be very daunting, especially if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’d like to do next. But there are many things you can do to make sure the job you accept will be the right fit. Read on for some tips from recruiters in the business to help you during the early stages of your search.
Beware losing the forest through the trees
Before you make your next move, it’s important to consider big-picture factors such as your short-term goals for the business, your five-and-ten-year goals, your ideal business mix and your personality type. Yet many advisors completely gloss over these crucial areas.
"A lot of brokers spend so much time on the details that they miss the big picture," says Rick Rummage, career coach and recruiter with The Rummage Group in Reston, Va.
A lot of brokers, for example, repeatedly clash with their managers, or seek more autonomy than their current model allows. Yet these same brokers switch from similar firm to similar firm and face the same troubles time after time. Instead, advisors should strongly consider the model that will best meet their personality and their goals, even if it is something different. "They want to make a move and they instantly look at what they know," says Rummage.
Put your misconceptions to bed
Don’t rely on information you heard through the grapevine, which may or may not be based in reality; otherwise, you might overlook viable prospects. Instead, you need to educate yourself about the different models that exist by talking to people who are truly in the know.
Rummage, for example, worked with one advisor from a large brokerage who was really against the idea of a bank brokerage because he felt it was a huge step down and that the product offerings were extremely limited. But after getting educated about a particular firm, he was surprised to learn that some advisors there were doing $500,000, $600,000, even $800,000 of production and that the platform was equal to (or even better than) what he currently had.
"Now he realizes had he moved to a good bank model years ago, his production and assets would have increased," Rummage says.
Understand your motivation for leaving
The most common initial factor motivating advisors to seek another job is dissatisfaction with their current employer, according to The Advisor Evolution Study, conducted by Registered Rep. and TD AMERITRADE Institutional in the fourth quarter of 2009. But it’s important to figure out your own personal motivations.
Is something pushing you from within your current firm—say a bad manager—or is something pulling you elsewhere, such as a desire for independence or the need for a broader product array or greater compensation?
"If you don’t understand what’s motivating you, you may not find what you’re looking for," says Bill McGovern, president of BD-SEARCH, a recruiting firm in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Get a good handle on your current business
Before you even think about moving, you have to look at what you have now. Consider, for example, your asset mix, the products and services you offer, and what money managers you work with. It’s also important to know what technology you currently have and what you anticipate will be important down the line.
You want to make sure that whatever you’re doing now is available at another firm, assuming you want to continue in the same career path, McGovern says. "You certainly want to be able to at least evaluate it and know what’s important to you," he says.
Consider your clients
Making a move to a new firm is only partly about you. Your clients are the other part of the equation. As such, you need to carefully consider whether your clients will be well-served by the new firm, whether the firm you are considering will offer you the same level of products and services or better, and whether clients will be okay with the move.
"That’s one of the first thoughts that should go through the mind of any financial advisor," says Darin Maris, chief executive at RJ & Makay, a recruiting firm in Colorado Springs, Co.
Understand your timeline
Timelines vary whether you are joining a new firm or starting your own, but it’s always best to allow ample time to make a move. Think in terms of months and not days or weeks. Of course, there can be circumstances beyond an advisor’s control that make it necessary to move more quickly, but giving the extra time is helpful whenever possible.
"If you try and rush the process, it can sometimes lead to poor decisions, and rushing the process can make for a messy transition," says McGovern of BD-SEARCH.
Get to know the management team of the firm you’re joining
Many advisors fall short on the due diligence aspect of job hunting, which is a big mistake, says Skiddy von Stade, chief executive of Onewire.com, a career management and job search Web site for the financial services industry.
"You want to do a lot of dating before you settle with somebody, and you certainly don’t want to rush into it," he says.
He suggests that advisors call prospective firms directly and set up interviews with various people with whom they’ll have close contact. Advisors should also talk to their peers and do some Web-based research. "The more homework that you do, the more preparation that you do, the better you understand yourself and what your abilities are; and the better you understand the employer, the better off you are," he says.
Keep compliance-related documentation handy
When it comes to switching firms, it’s helpful to be as organized as possible. That means, among other things, making sure that before you plan to move you have all the relevant documentation readily available, including copies of your contract and any regulatory matters that may concern you. If you don’t have this information at your fingertips, it will hold up the process and create unnecessary headaches for you.