Years ago, I was helping a wirehouse financial advisor negotiate his deal with his new prospective employer.
As the headhunter, I was managing the expectations of both sides within the parameters based upon what the new firm usually did and what the advisor expected to get.
At one point near the end of the process, the advisor told me: "Sarch, I'm selling a house, and I’m looking to get as much for it as I possibly can. They are buying my house and are looking to buy it as cheaply as they can. That’s the dynamic. Period."
I argued back to him that though this appeared to be true, he and his new boss would be living in the house together for the next eight years (the length of the contract).
If the air conditioning breaks one week after you sell your house in the heat of the summer, the problem isn't yours. It is the buyer's problem.
If, however, the computer system breaks down one week into your transition or if your biggest client wants to stay at your old firm, it is a problem for both of you. Although you sold your house, you are still living together in that same house for many years to come.
In a wirehouse-to-wirehouse transition, considering the number of times that wirehouses change managers, change names, change payouts and change corporate structures during the length of a given contract, I have come to believe that the cynical view has much more validity than I originally thought.
In other words, once they have finished recruiting you, you are stuck for a long time, so you might as well negotiate everything beforehand as aggressively as you possibly can. You have taken their money and they have the right to change the way that the house looks to the public (advertising), to tell you to move out (fire you) and to change the handyman (branch manager).
You have never really owned the house at all, regardless of the money you received.
But when you go independent, once you are truly broken away, you now own your practice. Your new service provider (custodian, independent broker-dealer, independent roll-up firm or whatever) must make sure that everything works, every day.
Every vendor that you deal with will want to know that you, the homeowner/business owner, are happy.
As the business owner, you have earned the right to control an environment that before was determined by the company.
Does that excite you or scare you? Perhaps that is the real answer to whether you are ready for independence.
Danny Sarch is the founder of Leitner Sarch Consultants Ltd. in White Plains, N.Y.
This story is part of a 30-day series on going independent.