Advisors are flocking to a free online marketplace that lets them shop anonymously when they’re thinking about switching firms.
Called the Advisor Center, the virtual recruitment tool has had 20,000 visitors and 13,000 users since its December launch. It includes a wide range of partners, from broker-dealers to branch offices to registered investment advisors to RIA custodians. Companies already signed up to the site include Cetera Advisors, Commonwealth Financial Network, LPL Financial, Pershing Advisor Solutions and TD Ameritrade Institutional.
Advisor Center CEO and founder Tom Daley will speak at the June 5-7 Pershing Insite 2013 conference to be held in Hollywood, Fla. Daley will be joined by Mindy Diamond, president of Diamond Consultants, and David Tateosian, president of First Republic Securities, for a panel discussion, “Breaking Out of the Box: The Next Frontier of Recruiting.”
“A large part of our community is coming back again, which is what we want to see,” said Daley (right), a veteran of LPL Financial who worked for the indie BD from 1997 through 2009 and was eventually promoted to senior vice president of East Branch Development.
“We want to be the largest resource center that provides objective information for advisors to compare opportunities while maintaining their anonymity,” he said. “That’s our mission. They control the engagement, there’s no commitment, and there’s no cost to the advisor.”
Virtual ‘Storefronts’ Similar to a Facebook Page
Advisor Center, which has six employees and is based in the northern suburbs of Chicago, is advertising-free and offers no preferential treatment for sponsors. Users’ information is secure and anonymous until they decide to share it with a trusted connection, Daley said.
He compared the site to Facebook, or a town’s Main Street shopping district, where participating firms maintain microsite “storefronts” so searching advisors can view and compare companies. The microsite becomes an extension of the firms’ existing marketing activities and can help them cut recruitment costs by up to 60%, according to Advisor Center data.
Firms’ cost of maintaining a microsite ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 annually for large broker-dealers and custodians and from $500 to $2,000 for smaller individual RIAs and branch managers, Daley said.
Daley said he got the idea of creating the Advisor Center after he left LPL in 2009 and he and two business partners launched a Chicago-based recruiting firm, Bull Market Recruiting. Lead generation as well as access to advisors was a challenge, especially when Daley saw the potential recruitment market shrinking as many advisors aged out of the profession.
“It became increasingly difficult to access the advisor community,” he recalled. “They’re bombarded by emails and calls from recruiting companies.”
‘The Companies Don’t Know Who You Are’
On the positive side, technology at the same time was improving in leaps and bounds—and this is where Daley spotted his opportunity, especially since his years at LPL had taught him that advisors enjoy their privacy when making inquiries about new employment opportunities.
There was no central aggregating platform to bring opportunities to an advisor, but advisors were nevertheless leveraging the Internet to gather information, Daley noted, adding that the Advisor Center lets advisors avoid the wearying process of filling out myriad confidential profile forms every time they want to check out a broker-dealer, custodian, RIA or branch.
“The companies don’t know who you are,” he said. “They just see that it’s a profile, so it’s vague and it protects you. But stepping on the front porch of the storefront on our online Main Street allows you to engage and control the fact-finding due diligence phase. Your resume isn’t on the street yet.”
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