How to Retain Your Clients, and Your Sanity, When Switching Firms

After careful consideration and due diligence, you’ve decided to change firms. Your excitement about moving may be tempered by what lies ahead — transitioning your practice. Whether you have undergone a transition previously or not, it’s safe to assume that most advisors view this as no small undertaking — and it’s not.

There are three immediate concerns advisors typically have when transitioning their practice:

  • Client Retention — How many of my clients will move with me? Will I lose any of my top-tier clientele?
  • Asset Retention Are all of my assets portable to the new firm?                                           
  • Resumption of Revenue Streams — How quickly can I get the assets moved over and settled?

Unfortunately, while there is nothing you can do to guarantee against any of the above being an issue for you during your move, you can significantly reduce the possibility of each of these taking place.

Plan your work. Then, work your plan.

With transitioning, two big catalysts for apprehension are inactivity and disorganization. In this process, both are detrimental to the success of your move. While there is always a certain amount of angst when facing the unknown, you can minimize it by doing the following:

1. Prioritize your clientele and move the most critical clients first.

This is where having your client base categorized within a CRM will pay dividends. However, if you don’t have clients identified in some system, use this as an opportunity to prioritize which clients you should focus on moving first.

2. Work with your new firm to see if any products you currently have are unmovable. If they aren’t, determine what you will do with those assets.

More than likely, your new firm has solicited this information from you during your due diligence process. However, if you have any proprietary products or product lines you are currently using for which you are unsure about approval for continuation, be sure to ask. The last thing you want is to discover you are unable to use a vendor critical to your practice.

3. Determine how the new paperwork will be created and disseminated to your clients.

This is where your new firm’s transition team or staff at your OSJ branch should come in. Meet with them and share your strategy for your move, allowing their expertise to suggest the best methods for you to create and deliver new paperwork to clients.

4. Don’t do it alone. Even the Lone Ranger had help.

This is too big of an undertaking to take on alone. Have your assistant actively engaged in this process to help organize all of the paperwork that will need to be generated. Clearly communicate your strategy and game plan to your assistant and make sure they understand their role during this process. If you do not have an assistant, your new OSJ branch and/or broker-dealer should have staff specifically positioned to help sort and accumulate all of the necessary forms and documents you need.

5. Use social media to announce the big move.

Understandably, if you are not a millennial, hearing the words "social media" can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Nevertheless, most of us have a LinkedIn and/or Facebook page, where our clients are most likely connected to one, if not both, channels.

Authoring a simple, yet enthusiastic, post announcing your new change can make a significant impact in reaching your audience, most of whom you want to know about this move. However, one word of caution — in today’s age of non-competes and non-solicitations, your message should be akin to that of a tombstone letter. Keep it simple and factually based. If you have a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, review your agreement and seek legal advice in advance of publishing.

This is an exciting time as you make this move presumably to elevate your business and career to the next level. While the transition of your practice is a significant endeavor, creating a transition strategy, leveraging key resources to assist with the move and using a digital marketing approach to reveal your big announcement will increase your odds of a successful and sane transition.

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