Displaying items by tag: recruiting
Stifel is a well-regarded firm in our industry. However, one characteristic of it that doesn’t work for all brokers is that they have an employee model. This runs counter to many of the independents with whom Stifel often gets grouped. Well, that looks like it is about to change as the firm has just hired a leading executive away from Wells FiNet in order to grow Stifel’s independent side, which currently stands at only 90 advisors, or only 4% of their total advisors. The firm is rebranding its independent arm to Stifel Independent Advisors and is looking to recruit new advisors to join.
FINSUM: This seems long overdue in our eyes. Stifel is a great brand and there is untapped interest for advisors to join them as independents.
There are so many things for a broker to consider before going independent. Aside from all the main ones that are usually discussed—compensation, freedom with clients etc—another key concern is branding. Many brokers have trouble leaving the big name on their business card behind when changing firms. Even advisors who are already at RIAs have a big choice to make in changing their branding. All of this highlights a key point: branding and marketing matter a great deal when going independent, and the support the new RIA provides is critical. Essentially, an important question to ask your potential new RIA is what kind of branding and marketing support they provide to help you transition existing clients, but also acquire new ones.
FINSUM: Marketing and branding are crucial areas where RIAs can vary wildly. Those with strong offerings will empower advisors to acquire new clients and grow AUM, where weak offerings can lead to client attrition and few new opportunities.
2020 was a rollercoaster of a year and not just in financial markets. It was quite a wild year in recruiting as well. When the pandemic hit, advisor movement dropped off to a trickle, but in the summer it started to come back and was roaring in the second half of the year. 2021 seems like it will be much the same. Both large IBDs and RIAs are looking to increase recruiting efforts, and offer packages for jumping ship have been getting larger. Commonwealth, for instance is planning a major recruiting push this year, which builds on other big efforts from Fidelity and LPL.
FINSUM: This definitely feels like an advisor’s market for moves. Firms are hungry to recruit and advisors seem to have the upper hand in negotiations.
There are many reasons to change firms, whether that means going independent, jumping between brokers-dealers, or moving from RIA to RIA. In all the talk on recruiting one of the elements that often gets lost is how certain firms can or cannot help you grow, and this fact is doubly true in the RIA space. Most of the discussion around joining RIAs has to do with freedom, better income, and better services for clients, but one narrative advisors need to think more about is whether a firm actually has the power to help transform your growth. Most advisors don’t really think too much about an RIA’s brand power when moving because the main focus is on the freedom to run their own business. In reality though, some RIAs have much better capabilities for really boosting client acquisition and aum growth than others. For example, does an RIA have a particularly strong view on the markets, or a unique marketable approach to investing? Do they have a well-developed network/infrastructure for COI referrals? Other factors, like how strong their actual marketing support is, are all critical to whether joining that firm will help you win new clients and grow your business.
FINSUM: Whether you are already at an RIA or thinking of joining one from a B-D, advisors need to think carefully about how a particular RIA’s brand and offering may help them grow. It can be a major differentiator for success.
A new study from Cerulli Associates has found that wirehouses are performing very well in one regard—advisor productivity. The average wirehouse advisor has $175m in AUM, almost double the industry average of $77.9m. Even more amazingly, wirehouse productivity has risen from an average of $148m at the end of 2018 (to $175m at the end of 2019). However, wirehouses are still shedding many advisors to RIAs and IBDs. Cerulli identified two key reasons why. The first is as old as the industry itself—compensation. According to Cerulli, wirehouse advisors are growing increasingly tired of “complicated and sporadically changing compensation grids”. Additionally, support staff is an area where advisors are frustrated, reporting a lack of support staff as an issue at a far higher rates than at other BDs and RIAs.
FINSUM: Wirehouse advisors currently enjoy two advantages—brand strength and scalable firm-wide technologies. Neither is enough to stem the current outflows of advisors, and the technology aspect is quickly being eroded by improving tech stacks for independent advisors.