- A match in strengths – What do they specialize in (retirement plans, insurance, tax-efficiency)?
- A match in culture – Small, medium, large? Family atmosphere or thousands of reps?
- Upfront enticements – Transition loans and bonuses are important to some reps. Other reps would rather see them passed along in the forms of lower fees for software, E&O insurance, etc.
- Transitional support – What type, and how large, is the team they have in place?
- The back office – Do they have fast response times? Are they knowledgeable and professional? Do you always have to leave a message?
- Technology – Tech skills vary from rep to rep. Do you need cutting edge gadgetry, or will the basics do?
- Practice management support – You’re a financial advisor first, a small-business man second. Is there someone to go to with questions on running a day-to-day operation?
- Compliance – The perennial pain. Does the compliance department work with you to get ideas passed, or do they shut you down with no further explanation? Are they looking out for you and your business?
- Compensation – Do they pay accurately and on time (twice monthly, weekly direct deposits)?
- Product diversity – Do they offer high-end, sophisticated wealth management products? Is it open-architecture or all proprietary?
Investing in private funds increases average portfolio returns, the firm found in a study.
"We continue to say ‘Don’t get too caught up on elections,’ but the U.S. election is the exception.”
A merger of the two larger brokerage firms faces antitrust and other hurdles, according to some key industry watchers.
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