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How not to blow a home office visit

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Behind the scenes, they’ve been called ‘the dog and pony show,’ in addition to being called the VIP meeting they actually are. The home office visit is oftentimes the clincher that pulls an adviser seriously considering a move over the finish line.

These affairs often last a full day, sometimes involve traveling long distances and are the culmination of months of planning and courting. The percentage of closing someone from a home office visit has been said in closed circles to be as high as 70% at some firms.

However, there are some things can blow the whole thing out of the water and there are impressions made that last. Here are a few things to consider once you've agreed to a visit and have your plane ticket in hand.

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First, by agreeing to the meeting, it’s understood that you are a probable yes for moving and will be treated as such. You know and they know that taking a whole day or two away from your practice is serious business. The best managers will have earnestly listened to your desires and arranged matters to make it the most productive for you. Communicate the needs of your business effectively so they can accommodate your concerns by getting the right executives and product specialists in front of you. This is the way to maximize the time for your benefit.

Second, don’t be a prima donna. Yes, you are important and the courting firm wouldn’t be spending the money to bring you to the home office if you weren’t. But don’t order or suggest the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu. If you make the move, then maybe it becomes an inside joke. But if you don’t, then that might cement the wrong reputation.

Maybe you don’t care, but you never know when you might need the relationship again. I’ve had someone order that wine and I also had one candidate at an important but early meeting order a second meal to take home with him. Needless to say, the wine faux pas candidate got fired from his original firm and is now out of the business and the second meal candidate didn’t get invited out again. Common courtesy still stands no matter how big your numbers are.

It's also important that you understand the difference between a home office visit that is private for you (and possibly your team members) and one that is a group of advisers from various firms across the country.

Some firms, like Wells Fargo and Ameriprise, find a group home office meeting very effective in getting the right executives available for the recruits. The dates for the meetings are scheduled and booked at the beginning of the year to lock in dates for all. Know this before you go so that you don’t feel slighted or less important with other recruits around. Generally, a wider range of production levels attend these meetings, but if appropriate, additional private meetings could be arranged. Speak with the manager or recruiter so you understand how your VIP meeting will look.

Furthermore, it's critical to be aware that during these VIP meetings, firms are evaluating you as much as you are taking stock of them. Sometimes a manager has put his or her neck on the line to arrange a great meeting so that the top brass will get on board in helping the manager pull you over the finishing line. Make a good impression with those you meet and this will have a positive impact on your experience.

Finally, say thanks.

Even though you are the one being recruited, understand that a lot went on behind the scenes so that you had a great experience on your trip. If you were deciding between two or more firms, the home office visit can tip you over the edge. Don’t go dark after the visit even though you may have decided to move elsewhere. Just say thanks. You never know when that relationship or experience will be useful again.

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