It's hard to watchhere comes the new guy who just landed a big recruiting package and there goes a valued former colleague, waving goodbye as he departs for his huge deal elsewhere. Meanwhile, you're stuck at your desk because you're at the mid-point of the contract that was attached to the huge deal you signed a few years ago.
You could still move, of course, and get a package from another firm large enough to repay your obligation to your current contract. You might even have a tidy sum left over.
However, you may have decided the hassles of a move are not sufficiently offset by what would be a watered-down net deal. Perhaps you have other, more personal reasons for wanting to stay put. Maybe you like where you are, but watching all those deals float around is starting to get you down. Whatever the reasons, here are some tips to survive and perhaps thrive in your current post.
Recruit Your Manager
The key to happiness (or at least the key to not driving yourself crazy wondering "what if?") is focusing on your branch manager, the most important bond you have in your firm. Is he or she the same person who hired you?
I read recently that as of August, only two coaches, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, have been with their teams for 10 years or more (Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants will enter that elite group in 2014). In addition, the average tenure of an NFL coach is 3.2 years. I wonder if branch managers last much longer.
Mergers and complexing have fueled the turn-over fire to the extent that it is likely that a majority of you report to someone different than you did just five years ago. So the question is thiswhat kind of relationship, if any, do you have with your leader?
This isn't just a philosophical question. Your manager controls the allocation of all the firm's local assets. He or she decides your office selection, your sales support, your marketing budget and syndicate allocations, just to name a few goodies.
Right now, your manager's most important job is to recruit and retain. That's why all these goodies seem to be handed out disproportionately to new recruits. Maybe your manager had to throw in a few extras to win a recruiting battle and now is just keeping his or her word. Unfortunately, you have already been recruited and if you are mid-package, you might not be getting much of the retention love.
I suggest that the key to your success and survival is to recruit your manager. You need this individual on your side and, as any good salesperson knows, if you help your manager, he or she will help you. Just as bringing in new assets is probably your biggest challenge, your manager's most import mission is to recruit top talent from the competition. You should help your manager succeed in this difficult task. You'll make his or her life (and your own life) a lot easier.
Be a Recruiter
We can all agree that there is nothing more valuable than a great referral to initiate the sales process. If you can help your manager meet, recruit and close the top advisors from the competition, you will make a friend for life.
If possible, make in-person introductions and stay involved in the process as long as you are needed. Your positive comments about your manager and branch can carry a lot of weight with prospective recruits. As an advisor, you have more credibility with another advisor than any manager could hope to have. Your firm may have a compensation program for such assistance, but your biggest payoff will likely be the way your manager treats you once he or she sees you as a valuable asset and ally in achieving his or her mission.
With deals at record levels, firms are effectively making huge bets that new recruits will transfer assets and adequately produce. The likelihood of success is far greater for those new hires that join existing, prospering teams. So, consider finding new teammates among your manager's recruits.
By so doing, you are not only enhancing your team, but also helping a new person more rapidly acclimate to the firm. You are also helping to eliminate some of the risk of the new hire. As long as it is the right person with the proper skill set, why not affiliate with the new guy and help the cause? You may just be able to access some of the extra benefits which might be coming his or her way.
Keep Your Manager Informed
There are other, more subtle ways that you can make your professional world a more successful and enjoyable place. As a senior person on the staff, you're in a great position to be your branch manager's eyes and ears. You can help your manager know when certain advisors are unhappy, which can help him or her retain key players. Without a heads up, management is often the last to know when advisors are grumbling.
I am not suggesting you run to the manager when you hear that Andy and Amy are leaving next Friday. However, if you learn that valuable advisors are unsatisfied because of something that is fixable, you would be wise to bring that to the attention of management.
In addition to assisting in recruiting and teaming, consider being more of a leader in your branch. In the often cynical world of advisors, be a positive voice. Be willing to say something upbeat at a sales meeting. Volunteer to work with a trainee. Introduce yourself to a new recruit and help answer some of the many questions he or she might have during his or her first months with the firm. Remember what it felt like to be the new kid on the block.
When watching everyone else rolling in new deal dough, it can be tough to maintain a positive attitude. Remember that you always have a choice between the high road and the low road.
You can join the negative crew (almost every branch has one) and spend your time focusing on everything that is wrong. You can complain about the fact that the manager doesn't care about you and only cares about recruiting and those he or she has recently brought to the firm. In time, your attitude might decline to a point where you begin to resent you firm and coming to work becomes a chore. No doubt, your productivity will suffer on this path.
The good news is that the choice is yours. The route to happiness and success is a positive approach. Be friendly, open and helpful and you will be treated in a like manner. Coaching yourself to a positive attitude will have the desired impact on your work experience and overall results. I am reminded of the old adage: Attitudes are contagious, is your worth catching?
Bill Willis is founder and president of Willis Consulting,
a financial services recruiting firm based in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.,
which he founded after 25 years in the securities business.
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