As we head into the homestretch of 2022, many advisors may be reevaluating their firm affiliation and asking themselves whether they are in the right professional home as they plan for 2023.
While making a move to another firm can be a major undertaking — and should not be taken lightly — the fear of transitioning your business should not hold you back, especially if it’s in the best interest of your business, your team and your clients.
As the head of Onboarding and Integration at Cetera Financial Group, I lead a team that helps advisors affiliate their businesses with our firm every step of the way. We consistently hear all kinds of feedback from advisors about their experiences changing firms, including lessons learned, what worked, and what didn’t.
Here are some key lessons and important considerations advisors should keep in mind when contemplating a firm affiliation change.
1. See it as an opportunity to reset.
While many advisors perceive the pain that accompanies a business onboarding may outweigh the benefits, the reality is that transforming your business provides several long-term opportunities.
If you have strong relationships with clients, they are likely to come with you, regardless of your firm affiliation. In this case, onboarding with a new firm becomes an opportunity to proactively talk to your clients – in many cases, we have seen these conversations drive business and provide a pathway to consolidate assets.
Changing firms also provides an opportunity to clean house – to shed clients who aren’t the right fit, and reset the bar, if needed, in terms of your pricing. We have also seen many advisors proactively survey their clients as part of an onboarding to benchmark their satisfaction with their service and results, which goes a long way toward building and maintaining long-term client retention.
Ultimately, if you’re moving your business for the right reasons, and you take a disciplined approach with a firm with a proven onboarding program, onboarding with a new firm can put you in the driver’s seat in terms of defining the type of business you want to run and the clients you want to serve.
2. Preparation is key.
Just like any other major life change, preparation is key to success. The better you prepare your team and business for the change, the better the outcome.
As an example, having current and reliable data is critical. Do you have updated contact information and risk tolerance details for your clients? If not, you should prioritize doing so before any transition. If your data is not current, you risk those clients having a negative experience during your business transition or worse – losing them.
When it comes to your team, be sure to define clear roles and responsibilities well before any onboarding takes place. Collaboration and transparency are key; don’t work in a vacuum or keep team members in the dark.