After several rough years, Wall Street's employment scene for 2013 may look less like a blood bath, which, for many, is a welcome relief; on the other hand, the industry is a long way from where it was before the carnage began.
I recently spoke with Craig Enderlin, the Founding Partner/CEO of the Advisor Placement Group. Before taking on the role of a full-time recruiter, Craig was a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, and an independent broker.
Big Boys And Girls Weigh In
Perhaps the most dramatic development for Craig in 2012 was the amount of movement by high producers ($500,000 and up) relative to lower producers. Craig says that the shop talk among his fellow recruiters is that although they did fewer deals in 2012 than they had hoped, those deals that got done involved more high-end producers than was expected: a case of quality over quantity.
Given Craig's end-of-year-2011 expectations, he didn't expect to see as much movement as took place in 2012. In 2011 there was far more complacency among industry registered person - understandable in light of the challenging economy and the ongoing consolidation and retrenchments in the industry. It looked like the hunkering down that started in 2008 would persist; however, as 2012 moved forward, by the end of July, Craig noticed a pick-up in queries from big producers interested in changing firms and exploring their options. Craig is confident that this trend will continue into 2013.
As to this increased migration by larger producers, Craig believes it is due to such folks growing increasingly confident that the industry is stabilizing along with the overall economy, thus giving them more flexibility and motivation to analyze their current situation and explore their options rather than sitting tight and playing it safe.
Invest In Tech
One welcome development in 2012 was Craig's perception that some broker-dealers began to aggressively upgrade their technology systems. Among the more common complaints from brokers is that their firm is not investing in compliance technology to help streamline filing requirements. The dinosaurs that haven't innovated and explored technology are losing and will continue to lose advisors. Various technology upgrades such as E-Signature offer increased efficiency and paperwork reduction as an enticement to many producers struggling with processing delays. The ability to expeditiously move and submit paperwork through the BD channel has become a very attractive draw for brokers considering a move.
Stock Jockeys Dismounted
Craig believes that the affiliation contracts in place and expiring from the Great Recession will prompt many registered persons to start looking around for new homes in 2013. The potential loss of more seasoned producers is already prompting wirehouses to increase trainee programs. Similarly, Craig predicts that wirehouses will emphasize an interest in securing production teams rather than the dying breed of the lone ranger. Further, when a team is hired, it tends to impose a number of intangible restraints upon the component players, not only making it more difficult for any given player to leave, but also creating a stickier environment to keep the group together.
Among the pronounced items on the checklists of many brokerage firms seeking talent is the desire to recruit registered persons capable of offering advice, not just the ability to sell product. Craig characterizes this shift as one away from stock jockeys peddling stock tips to a holistic, comprehensive business model based upon advice. Moreover, Craig says that in order to nurture and exploit this new advisory emphasis, many wirehouses expanded their research departments and moved into fee-based asset management.
Wirehouse Model In Flux
2013 promises to see further fragmentation of traditional industry channels as Wall Street evolves from the wirehouse model to bank model to indie model to indie RIA model to hybrid indie BD (allowing outside RIA). For producers seeking to move on to something better, the options now are tremendous, provided you're willing to do your due diligence. Craig stresses that you've got to know your options and be prepared to belly up to the smorgasbord out there. Unfortunately, based upon initial meetings with potential recruitment clients, Craig says that many folks still aren't fully aware of the range of choices. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Goldman Sachs, LPL, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Ameriprise, E*Trade - there's all that and more, and even what some of the names of the Street once represented is morphing.
In response to whether he noted any new or surprising developments in 2012, Craig said that social media issues have become huge. Older advisors typically don't fully exploit social media marketing - either because they don't understand it or their firm won't provide support. My firms say FINRA hates it and we don't want to bother. No help. No training. That's what Craig is hearing. Rather than a mere fad, Craig says that social media is the networking and marketing tool of the future, and even if older producers don't quite know what it is or how to use it, Craig is hearing more veterans complaining that they realize that they're missing out on exploiting this opportunity and need assistance - a lack of which many cite for their reaching out to a recruiter. Craig says that he is regularly being asked for placement with an organization that is proactively promoting the advisor's use of social media and provide training and support.
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