We no longer live in a society where you work the same job at the same company for 30 years and then retire. More often than not, people change for a growth opportunity, or they don't put too much thought into it and simply decide to move elsewhere.

Perhaps, this is more than true for financial advisers. Their firms change and consolidate, which sometimes makes independence an attractive option, or they seize on an opportunity to monetize their book with a strategic move. But how does an adviser find the firm that fits their way of doing business? And how do they get that firm's attention?

To understand where an adviser best fits in the financial advisory world, it’s important to know that while firms have many similarities, it’s often culture that’s a differentiator. Factors to consider with culture include what influences an adviser on a national and local level, and personal needs.

Read more: Culture Club: What Raymond James & HighTower Get Right

For example, a firm’s branding and national reputation can make a big impact on certain advisers. However, advisers should look passed the surface and know that firms are still looking for certain candidates. Those companies focused on high-net-worth clients may take a pass on recruits with too many accounts and low production.

On a local level, branch managers often set the tone for how a firm comes off to advisers. There are managers who develop stellar reputations for creating workplace environments where advisers feel taken care of. These managers have the Midas touch with recruits and recruiters because they are known for delivering on their promises to both.

Read more:

As for personal reasons, these include moving to a firm because of a friend who already works there, or partnership opportunity. Sometimes the attraction for advisers could just be a firm's location or promised accommodations.

Advisers may want to do a self-assessment of these personal needs on their search for the right firm. The next critical step would be meeting with several companies. But advisers should understand the real payoffs behind meetings, because as many recruiters will tell them, “Just because you meet, doesn’t mean you’re moving.”

Unlike any other business, meetings and connecting with managers from other firms is part of the normal course of business for wealth management. I’ve had advisers meet once a year for over 10 years and never make a move.

Then something happens, and that relationship fostered over time easily transitions into something greater. While one meeting doesn’t mean an adviser is moving, 10 meetings in a row might be sending a different message. Advisers should understand that networking with other firms is a good business strategy. If they are not doing it at least once a year, they are doing a disservice to their businesses.

Recruiters especially want advisers to have meetings in the hopes they discover the conversations rewarding enough to continue a dialogue. But hopefully these same recruiters have enough understanding of their advisers' businesses so that they're not encouraged to have meetings with branch managers who might be a mismatch.

Now, if an adviser shows interest in a firm, and no one has pitched it to them, then the recruit could reach out to the company. LinkedIn can be a good way of connecting with someone who can make an introduction. In our media-friendly world none of this should seem strange.

Advisers may also turn to a trusted recruiter for advice or help making the contacts. Advisers should understand that contacts who agree to help may end up having a vested interest in getting the recruits to move.
Advisers should also ask their contacts for information they can use to decide on a potential job change. Here are a few questions advisers can consider:

  • Does the firm’s culture jive with who you are as a person?
  • Will the manager give you the support you need to grow your business?
  • Are there other people in the office that might inspire you and your business?
  • Will the firm you’re considering be able to accommodate the needs of your clients?

The most successful moves are ones where the adviser gives thoughtful consideration to both their personal and professional reasons for switching jobs. This due diligence may help then land the firm that is a true a match on both levels.

Elizabeth McCourt

Elizabeth McCourt

Elizabeth McCourt is president of McCourt Leadership Group, a coaching and consulting firm in Westhampton Beach, N.Y.