By Molly Powers

According to a 2019 Fidelity report, four out of 10 advisors are satisfied with their current firm.1 Given this statistic, you may be one of the six who are dissatisfied. If you’re looking for more from the firm you are affiliated with, why wait to make a change?

Transitions do not have to be as stressful as they are often made out to be. I have seen unhappy advisors pull back from making a move because they dreaded the transition process. With a candid, experienced transition team, you may be surprised by the opportunities that arise regardless of whether you are looking to grow your firm, build a succession plan or work with a larger team. If you view the entire transition period as a three-part process, it becomes manageable and achievable.

Part I: Finding a Good Match

Not every firm is going to match your criteria for an ideal workplace.

Spend time doing your homework. Take some time to get to know the organization and its people. While the firm conducts due diligence, you should do the same. If there are too many differences within your practice, go with your gut and accept that this will not be a good fit for the long term.

Read the fine print to ensure you avoid surprises in the future. If you feel aligned after a thorough review from everything to culture all the way to investment philosophy, you are taking the first step toward a successful transition.

Part II: Managing Client Migration

What does a transition mean for clients and client accounts? The reality is that migrating clients and setting expectations can be the biggest hurdle for a transition. Furthermore, gathering client data can be especially challenging when you use several systems to run your business. If you’re not familiar with obtaining exports, it is critical to work with someone who will spend the time with you to gather the correct information.

Through dual registration, we assist advisors by doing the following:

  • Evaluating all elements of their business and preparing client paperwork.
  • Looking at the client specific information and determining how the business can best be transitioned over via exports on billing, asset allocations, performance history and more detailed client information.
  • Preparing client paperwork through an automated process.

Part III: Adopting New Technology and Client Processes

After the transition of clients has begun, becoming acclimated with technology and procedures is key to future success. Work with your point person by asking questions and scheduling weekly meetings to gain a deeper understanding of the firm. Two important things to keep in mind here:

The firm has processes and procedures in place for a reason. Be open minded. You may have liked a process from your old organization, but don’t always assume the old way was best.

Use the systems you are taught. Too often, advisors are trained to use new systems, but then fail to make them a part of their daily practice. Many unrealistic advisor expectations stem from the lack of implementation on the advisor’s part. To quote W.B. Yeats, “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” Continue to build the fire and keep the pot full.

What Happens Next

Our team learns from each transition. While many articles written on transition will tell you to allow yourself plenty of time, there is more to it than that. You must have realistic expectations, complete the task of tracking signed paperwork and be prepared for client conversations regarding the transition.

Nothing compares with having an experienced transition team help you start off on the right foot and feel welcome at your new firm. In fact, the quality of the transition experience usually sets the tone for an advisor’s next chapter. For those advisors ready and willing to take the leap, my advice is to view transition as the three-part prelude to a satisfying future.



Molly provides support to advisors in different stages of their career from onboarding to succession planning. With nearly a decade of experience in financial services, she serves as a primary resource for new advisors, acquisition transitions and practice management.

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1Retaining Is the New Recruiting.” Fidelity Investments, 2019.

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