There are many reasons why financial advisors leave big firms such as Merrill Lynch or Wells Fargo and go independent.
Two veteran industry recruiters – Howard Diamond, managing director and general counsel of Diamond Consultants of Chester, N.J., and Mark Elzweig, president of Mark Elzweig Co. of New York – discussed some of the top reasons advisors venture forth on their own.
Burnout working for a large bureaucratic firm. This is one of the most common reasons advisors move to independence, according to both recruiters.
Many advisors working for Merrill Lynch, UBS and Wells Fargo didn't necessarily volunteer to join huge wirehouse firms, Diamond says.
Previously, they may have worked for smaller regional firms with entirely different cultural and business tactics.
"These advisors went from working for a small brokerage on Friday to a huge multinational firm on Monday," Diamond says. "The ability to get things done, to have access to senior leadership and to go the extra mile for a client in certain cases was diminished or lost."
Desire to build something in their own image. "Advisors who opt for independence already have the entrepreneurial DNA," Elzweig says. "They are more interested in maximizing their control over their business than they are in getting big recruiting packages."
Adds Diamond: "They'd rather build something in their own image and not increase the value of someone else's business. For these folks, the name on the door [theirs] is more important than the name over the door [the firm's]."
Craving more control over the way they run their business. Many independent-minded advisors cite what they regard as wirehouse practices that they find too constricting, and they want more flexibility, Elzweig says.
For example, they may want to use social media, write articles or publish newsletters and have more latitude.
"Many independents also want a more customized compliance regimen, where they can get answers sometimes in a few hours or the very next day," Elzweig says. "If you’re a [registered investment advisor], you can hire your own compliance consultants."
Inability to properly serve clients at a big firm. For those advisors and representatives who are trying to build their business, account asset minimums at a big firm can prove inhibiting, Diamond says.
Many advisors, especially those trying to build bigger businesses, would like to work with the clients they choose and for whom they believe they can do good work, Diamond says.
"They'd rather work with these smaller clients today because they know in a few years [those clients] will be in their prime earning years," he says.
Bruce W. Fraser, a New York financial writer, contributes to Financial Planning and On Wall Street.
This story is part of a 30-day series on going independent.
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