Over the last 20 years, I've had my fair share of meetings with advisors who've been reluctant to work with another recruiter, having been stung by one in the past. I understand; like every industry, there are good, trustworthy players, and then there are those who give the rest a bad name.
In fact, when I took my first recruiting job two decades ago, I'll never forget the very first phone call I made to a wirehouse broker. I simply asked him, "What's missing in your life?" and he replied, after a moment of silence, "Wow. No recruiter has ever asked me that." I was shocked and thought, isn't that what it's all about? It was this interaction that framed the entire trajectory of my career and inevitably led me to launch FA Match
As a sports fan, I like to think of advisors as athletes and myself as the agent tasked with finding a team that has a compatible training style, leadership, and culture. No two athletes are the same, and the process involved in finding the right fit for them isn't singular. It takes focused due diligence, an open mind, and a steadfast commitment to "do right" by the advisor at every step.
The issue in our industry is this: if left unchecked, traditional recruitment practices often end up treating the advisor as nothing more than the value of their trading card. Inherent conflicts of interest arise from having small, recycled networks of firms that pay top commission while advisors are left with the long-term consequences if the new firm isn't what they'd hoped.
As the advisor, you are the asset. And as the asset, you deserve to be in the driver's seat of your own career path, knowing that your recruiter is providing you with the highest level of fiduciary guidance, just like you provide for your clients.
Here are six questions you should ask your recruiter to ensure they're working as the agent you deserve:
1. What is your Why?
If your client called you today and asked, "Why did you become a financial advisor?" would you have an answer for them? Yes, and it should be no different if you asked your recruiter the same question. You're putting a lot of trust into this person to help change the course of your livelihood, and you want to know that they care about more than just the transaction fee.
2. How do you get paid?
Speaking of fee, it's important to know how your recruiter will get paid once you make a transition. Will they collect a commission based on your current revenue? Do they get paid a flat fee? Is there a contingency based on how you perform at your new firm? Depending on the answer, the recruiter may be more or less motivated to find the right, long-term fit for you.
3. How long have these firms been in your Rolodex?
As I mentioned above, one of the biggest concerns facing old school recruiters with a niche focus is their portfolio of firms can be limited. Instead of doing the work to find the right firm, they may be inclined to send you to a short-list of familiar firms that they know will pay a higher fee. This is why it's important to ask them how often they conduct due diligence on new firms. If their list of firms is updated and fresh, you're more likely to be presented with high-quality options.
You'll also benefit from asking how diversified their recent successes are. If the recruiter has placed their last 10 advisors at the same two or three firms, it is an indication that their due diligence is lacking.
4. What is your due diligence process?
This question is a good follow-up to #3. Once you gain more clarity on the firms your recruiter works with, you can begin to dig into their search process. Do they use a reliable database? What factors do they consider when finding a good match? How well do they know the leadership at the firms you're introduced to? You want a recruiter who is willing to do the work alongside you and advocate for you every step of the way.
5. How many advisors have you helped make a transition in the last year?
If the recruiter you're working with is new to this space, you may grant them a pass if they haven't executed many transitions in the last year (these deals take time). But if you're working with a recruiter who calls themself "seasoned," then you want to know that they have a steady cadence of successful deals.
6. How involved are you in the deal process?
As a self-proclaimed "agent to financial advisors," I'm hell-bent on thinking that a good recruiter should be there for you from the beginning to the close. Ask them if they're involved beyond making the introduction. Do they help negotiate the best deal for you? Do they help analyze the risk/reward? Are they available during due diligence to help with any needs you have?
Recruiters can serve as an incredible tool for transitioning your career, but finding the right one who can help you reach your goals is important. My advice is this: hold their transparency, integrity, and professional network at the highest standard, and you'll eventually hit a home run.
Are you an advisor seeking to join a new firm? FA Match has a number of solutions to help advisors assess firms based on mutual compatibility - all with the power of robust Advisor Match technology. Visit www.famatch.com to learn more.