Although wirehouse employment remains flat or down, and the independent sector is growing rapidly, this trend should not obscure the fact that most wirehouse advisors will remain wirehouse advisors their whole careers. Advisors are in that channel because it suits them and the way they do their business, or perhaps they perceive the costs of changing to be too high. So what’s a wirehouse advisor to do? Our June issue offers several ideas.
First, those not seeking a change in their employment but seeking to break through production plateaus should focus on leveraging the support they have at their disposal. Wirehouse firms have vast resources that their rank and file rarely avail themselves of. As Patti Abram points out in her Private Client column, financial advisors could do so much more if they properly utilized their sales assistants, branch managers, firm specialists, operations and IT staff and, of course, product wholesalers. She offers a number of specific ideas.
Second, those considering going independent but fearful of a big change should be aware of a new trend our reporter Ellen Uzelac writes about in this month’s cover story: “semi-independence.” A number of firms are experimenting with multiple platforms to offer a range of options balancing ownership and firm support. Call it the “Goldilocks business model” — not too hot and not too cold, but just right for advisors hesitant to establish full independence.
Not all independent firms are seeking to respond to this market. Some firms quoted in our story see a dilution of the fully independent excellence they seek to associate with their brands. Whether you agree or not with their take on this, the industry seems clearly to be responding to market demand. Ameriprise Financial’s Brian Heath eloquently puts it this way: “Like any capitalistic pursuit, the more demand you get in a system, the more creativity the system delivers.”
If you take nothing else from this months’ coverage, realize that the “merchant” with the product or platform you are seeking is open for business and is extending credit. Anything that you feel will strengthen your business or help your clients is available to you. Your clients deserve and expect the best service, and there is no good excuse for not providing that to them, and profiting from it. The work is great, the day is short, and the time is now. Do you have the vision?