From the December 2008 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Five Questions for the Top Recruiters

When should an advisor speak with another firm? Is it OK to just "explore" or should the advisor be fully prepared to "exit" when contacting rivals?

It is not just OK, it's actually a very good idea as this is the only way to determine if you and your clients would be better served by a different firm.

What are the top reasons for an advisor to think about making a move?

The three most important issues for an advisor to consider are:

(1) Will the "client experience" be better if I move to a new broker/dealer?

(2) Will the culture and environment allow me to achieve my personal and professional goals? And

(3) Does the firm foster an environment that leads to high FA satisfaction?

Can you suggest any key questions that advisors should ask recruiters?

How can the firm help me to better serve my clients?

What level of back office support can I expect? (The ratio of home-office support staff to advisors is one good indication).

How can this firm help me grow my business?

What is the sub-prime exposure of your firm?

What is the satisfaction level (and turnover level) of existing advisors?

Some of this information can be gathered by reviewing annual surveys and awards.

We were particularly gratified earlier this year when Raymond James was not only ranked highest in full-service investor satisfaction but also ranked highest in employee advisor satisfaction in a tie in the J.D. Power and Associates surveys.

What is a key misconception about switching firms?

The key misconception about changing firms is that advisors will lose their clients. Advisors with good relationships will maintain those relationships when they change broker/dealers. The primary relationship is actually with the advisor and not the firm.

In fact, our recent experience has been that in light of issues going on in the industry (sub-prime losses, etc.), clients are actually happy when the advisor moves to a firm that has avoided some of the major problems that have plagued much of our industry.

What's your advice to advisors who are really on the fence, or 50/50, about leaving a firm?

Think long term and consider what is best for your clients.

Research the alternatives.

Talk to advisors at the firms under consideration and ask them what they like and also what they don't like about their present firm.

Take the time to visit the home office of firms you are considering to get a full understanding of their capabilities and culture.

This should help you to determine if you'll truly be better off with a change.

These are challenging times, and clients and advisors are naturally concerned. As a result of these concerns, we are speaking with record numbers of advisors at Raymond James as they look for a firm that has sidestepped many of the issues, such as sub-prime losses, and remains focused on servicing advisors and their clients.

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