Displaying items by tag: wirehouse
2020 was a very unique year for recruiting. In particular, despite the obvious market and economic turmoil, it was a year in which almost all aspects of going independent got more favorable. Not only did working from home making recruiting conversations with new firms easier, but working from home itself made going independent seem less daunting. Further, firms’ appetite to offer great packages to recruit has grown considerably since this time last year, so it is certainly an advisors’ market when it comes to moving.
FINSUM: One other point to mention here is that clients themselves have also gotten more comfortable with their advisors being independent. The lack of office visits and growth of Zoom communication has limited the need for the big well-known logo in the office lobby when clients arrive. Independents seem likely to gain more market share.
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.
Breaking away is a tense process for advisors. Not only is there the emotional “fear gap” about venturing into the unknown, but even considering the move is difficult. One of the major reasons why is that it is hard to know how much your comp might increase or what kind of deal you might get for moving. Advisors often ask themselves “what does my business need to look like in order to make a successful move?”. Well, here is some insight. Larger firms, say with $5m+ plus in revenue can easily afford to make the transition and hire all the consultants necessary to make a successful switch. However, the less known reality is that even solo advisors with between $50m to $100m in AUM can be very successful in moving. Payouts for such advisors can approach 80%, meaning those bringing in $500k of revenue can reasonably hope to keep $400k of it. As a rule of thumb, advisors’ take-home pay usually jumps 10-15 percentage points when breaking away from a wirehouse.
FINSUM: This is very useful information. We drew it from a number of sources, including Kitces.
If you are considering going independent, Charles Schwab has an interesting new survey for you. Thousands of advisors have been flowing out of wirehouses and large regional brokerages over the last few years. They have either gone completely independent or joined independent broker-dealers. In either case, a new survey from Charles Schwab shows that such advisors are very happy. In fact, 90% of advisors who have gone independent report that they have no regrets about their choice to go it alone.
FINSUM: The reality is that most advisors say that whether you become an RIA or go to an IBD, you can serve clients better and make more money at the same time. The general opinion is that with an RIA you lose a lot of structural support, but you keep everything for yourself; while with an IBD you keep more structural support and still get much higher payouts than at a wire.
Going independent has many upsides and downsides, but listing them as pros and cons is not particularly simple. Sure, there are higher payouts than at a wirehouse, but there is also more responsibility. In some sense, it depends on the stage of your career as an advisor as to whether going independent is the right choice. If you are senior, with your own book of high paying clients and your own office/branch, then going independent can make sense. You get higher payouts and you already have experience managing a team, and you have more product flexibility for clients. If you are younger, going independent can be more difficult since you likely need more help building your book, and don’t have experience managing people or the overheads associated with running your own branch.
FINSUM: There does seem to be a “right time” to go independent. There are a lot of perks to doing so, but one does need to have a bit of an entrepreneurial slant as you truly are a business owner in such a scenario.