How and When do You Tell Your Team

Any discussions around moving your business should be kept at the Partner/Advisor level.  Only the producing Advisors should be evaluating the firms and conducting due diligence.  It is likely that you have a non-solicitation clause in your contract and therefore, discussing a move with an analyst or sales assistant will trigger a violation in that clause and you can be terminated.  Additionally, common sense dictates that the more people involved with a discussion, the greater the opportunity for there to be a leak, or violation of confidentiality.  Some firms have a strict policy with regards to searching for employment elsewhere and it can lead to termination; read your current contract.  Others will take your adamant denial and let you go on your merry way.

That said, there is a right way to inform your team.  If your astute teammates suspect something and they approach you, deny that you are in talks with any firms.  You must assume at this point there has been a breach of confidentiality.  Depending on what stage of discussions you are in there are steps you can take to squash the rumor.

Generally the time to tell your team is when you are negotiating the contract, after you have agreed to the deal terms and as you are negotiating the finer points.  Invite the key members out to dinner, start with your analysts and then separately invite the sales assistants and tell them.  You will need to sell them hard on why you are moving and the benefits to the clients and to them.  You will need to have a firm understanding of the platform and operational issues to convince the team that their daily lives will be made easier and that their careers will be enhanced by the move.

You should also have an idea as to the salaries they will get from the new firm and the moving bonus you will be paying them (most Advisors pay, but not all) from any compensation you receive.  You do not need to get into any of your deal specifics, but be prepared to answer any compensation questions that are relevant to them.

You do not want any member to be “left behind.”  Your former firm will use those former team members to help retain your clients and work against a successful move.  Of course, if there are people you do not want to bring, they should be kept in the dark or let go in advance of the move.

Be sure to underscore the highly confidential nature of this endeavor to your team.  Lay the ground rules for communications: 1) never discuss a possible move in the office 2) never discuss it on an office phone 3) do not use firm email or IM for any communications 4) do not discuss it with anyone other than your spouse/significant other.

Explain that a person from the centralized human resources department will be calling them to discuss an opening at the new firm working for a soon-to-be-hired team.  Explain that you will be involved peripherally because you cannot solicit them at all given your current contract.

Finally, you will need all team members to work on the transition plan in advance of the actual move AND you will need to coordinate everyone’s resignations.