From the May 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

It's OK to Stay

Have you ever thought about leaving your broker-dealer? Who hasn't at some point or another, right? Eventually, every broker-dealer screws up. When they do, financial advisors often start to call recruiters at other firms. Most times though, the screw-ups get corrected, Mr. Advisor forgives and the recruiter suddenly can't get his phone calls returned. Much like the sun rising in the east, it's just the way it is.

Typically, an advisor either gets over his broker-dealer's occasional mishap, or the displeasure never goes away and he or she moves their business to another firm. Every once in a while, however, a broker gets stuck. He or she gets stuck in displeasure and also stuck in the "checking out other broker-dealers" phase. What starts as a simple inquiry can sometimes blow into a merry-go-round obsession to find the perfect BD. And of course, we all know which broker-dealers are perfect (the other ones).

Allow me to introduce you to one such advisor I will call Leo (names have been changed to protect the innocent). I have a feeling Leo was a legend long before I came across him. My first exposure came when chatting with a fellow recruiter, Melinda. She had been working with this successful advisor for the past six months. Melinda told me that Leo had a few issues to settle but he was, for sure, going to join our company in a few months.

Well, a few months turned into a few more which in turn, turned into a few more. About a year later, Melinda (to her delight) went out on maternity leave. While the joy of having a beautiful daughter was reason enough to be thankful, it paled in comparison to the joy Melinda felt about passing Leo off to me.

"Finally" I thought. "I'll close this guy and have him here before Melinda's daughter drives her nuts and back to work!" Leo flew in for a visit and was exposed to both barrels of my "aw shucks" Midwest charm. The truth is I actually liked Leo. We had a great dinner and a few drinks. Our conversation was witty. Not a bad guy at all. "Piece of cake," I said to myself.

Being the ace salesman I am, I was able to secure a commitment out of Leo to join our firm -- just as soon as he got done with his daughter's wedding in the spring. Who could blame him? After all, transitioning a busy office and planning a wedding at the same time would be crazy, wouldn't it?

When I called Melinda to tell her I had landed her big fish, I wasn't sure what her reaction would be. Awe? Jealousy? Envy? It turns out it was none of the above. After paramedics revived her, they determined that she fainted as a result of oxygen deprivation from laughing so hard. Later medical analysis determined she might have also peed in her pants, albeit just a little.

Fast-forward another five years or so. By then, I had moved on to browner pastures. Imagine my delight when, out of the blue, the phone rang and I heard a familiar voice on the other end. "Hi, my name is Leo. I'm interested in getting some information on your firm."

We began our d?j? vu relationship yet again and had a few more dinners and few more drinks. We met another time when he attended one of our company conferences. He said he was in town visiting another broker-dealer and wanted to stop by and check us out. Naturally, I kept Melinda in the loop and well entertained with stories of "a few more months."

Leo never made the move to my first firm or my second one... So far he hasn't joined Melinda's firm either, but I understand they are back in high-level, double-top-secret negotiations. Personally, my guess is that Leo will never move, and that's OK. Maybe the perfect broker-dealer for you is the one you're already at.

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