Its All In The Details
Last year, we received the most startling and disappointing news of our professional lives. With no forewarning, we were told during a conference call that our broker-dealer was being sold and we had two months to decide whether to work with the new firm or find ourselves a different b-d. This, after nearly 40 years affiliation with one company and no particular desire to move.
If recent rumblings around the industry are true, you may find yourself looking for a broker-dealer and having no idea how to go about choosing one. Maybe by telling our story we can help you weather an incredibly trying experience that, if handled correctly, could position your company for an even brighter future than you envisioned. In retrospect, our firm is better off now than it was before.
Langdon Ford Financial, started by Bill Ford in 1966, always has focused on comprehensive financial planning. Having a superior broker-dealer is critical to that focus.
Since we joined the firm more than 20 years ago, we have believed in and will continue to believe in the career agency system. Our strategy is to hire and retain productive, high-caliber advisors who, if they are happy and appropriately supported, will attract good clients and develop practices that will remain productive for years. This strategy has brought success to our advisors and our firm for nearly four decades.
However, many insurers are looking for alternative distribution channels because they believe the days of the career agency system are numbered. That was the case with our old company as well as the new one that bought our broker-dealer.
We looked at the platform the new insurer offered and saw it was designed for large, independent producers in one- or two-person shops that focus on transactions rather than relationships. But we had more than 40 advisors who focus on comprehensive financial planning rather than securities transactions. And they wanted support from our team and staff.
Though it might have been “easier” to use the platform offered us, it didnt fit our firm, our clients, our approach or our philosophy. We had two months to find a new home.
Though our existing b-d services would not cease operations for two months, the two of us decided to make our selection in one month to give our new broker-dealerwhoever it would beone month to prepare for the transition. We ensured efficient use of our limited time by creating a detailed selection process tied to a rigorous schedule, and we followed both faithfully.
We started by consulting our in-house advisory board, composed of our top advisors. We took one week with them to create and refine a list of the characteristics of our ideal broker-dealer. The final list was long, detailed and included these “must-have” qualities:
–progressive, forward-thinking, with an insurance company affiliation because we are comprehensive planners who do substantial amounts of investment and insurance business;
–an advisor-focused business philosophy that allows us to offer our advisors benefits, advanced marketing, competitive life products and an efficient back office;
–a relationship-based (rather than transaction-based) business model;
–a business mix similar to ours, including agreements with the same mutual fund companies, money management firms and multiple annuity carriers;
–investment advisory and fee-based programs;
–an advanced technology platform that enables us to execute trades and other types of business smoothly;
–a grasp of the capabilities needed to move us to their platform with minimal disruption;
–a step-by-step plan for making the move; and
–continued use of our firm name, Langdon Ford Financial.