“The difference is we’re smaller,” says Joe Richard when asked what, specifically, Wall Street Financial Group does better than anyone else. Their size, he asserts, allows for a flexibility and selectiveness that’s difficult to find at a larger firm. And of course it’s about the culture; a family atmosphere where he knows each rep and knows them well. This means they don’t look to traditional recruiting sources, and that suits them just fine.
Richard, a veteran of the wholesaling side of the business, has been with the firm for nine years. He sat down with Investment Advisor for a candid chat about life at a small, successful firm.
Q: Broker-dealer recruiting expert Jon Henschen said 2010 was “the year of staying put” for reps. Do you agree with that assessment? If so, are you starting to see things pick up again from a recruiting standpoint?
A: If we had this conversation in June 2010, I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly. But in the second half of the year we saw things pick up. From an activity standpoint we really started seeing things happen in September.
Q: What do you attribute it to?
A: It’s a combination of things. If independents decided they wanted to make a move in 2007, 2008 or 2009, it wasn’t a time you wanted to change broker-dealers. The country was in a recession and the last thing you wanted to do is go back to your clients and tell them you made a change. At that point they’d start looking at statements and seeing that they were down 30% or 40% because of market conditions. So people were biding their time and it wasn’t a good opportunity to move. The other reason is that advisors were waiting to see what the landscape looked like after conditions started to turn around.
Q: What about revenue from existing reps? Are you seeing revenue per rep increase, decrease or level off?
A: We’ve always seen revenues increase organically, but to your point, certainly from an average production per rep standpoint I would say since about September 2009 things started picking up again for us. We’ve been in a growth mode for almost a year and a half.
Q: What does Wall Street Financial do better than anybody else?