How to Resign from Your Firm

Move Midweek
Advisors used to always move on a Friday.  The reason for a Friday move was to hinder your now former firm from contacting your clients and trying to retain them.  The trend lately has been to move mid-week so that you can get your registration cleared and you can start conducting business.  The downside is that is does give your former firm more wiggle room to retain your business, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.

Prepare for the Move Day
You have been at your current firm 5, 10, 20 years.  You have an office and it is uniquely you with personal photos and files.  How do you move out without anyone taking notice?  On the day of your move, do not plan on returning to your desk to pack up.  Your firm will take one of two positions with you: walk you to the door, or put you in a conference room and call senior management to come convince you to stay.  In either case, you need to plan ahead.

It is recommended to slowly remove any small, pocket-sized items over time before your move.  Only remove items that will not be missed by visitors to your office.  You may think that moving out the day before is fine, but with security cameras and in-house guards, you may cause a stir.  Make a packing list of your personal items and submit that with your resignation, leaving a copy on the top of your desk.  The firm will have an assistant or professional moving company pack them up and deliver them to your home.

If your cell phone/Blackberry and/or laptop are property of the firm, be sure to remove any personal information from their drives.  You will need to turn these in along with your company ID.  All original client files should be left intact.  Do not make any copies of client statements or printouts of any kind.  Follow the instructions of compliance at your new firm.  They want the client information as badly as you do, but they will tell you how they want you to obtain it.

How to Resign
The big day has finally come and it is now time to let your current firm know you are jumping ship.  You should have your resignation letter ready and previously reviewed by your attorney.  The letter should simply state that you are leaving to pursue another opportunity.  You do not need to say where you are going or why.  They will find out within hours, use this critical time to move a few clients under the direction of your new firm.

The actual resignation should be as short and cordial as possible.  You should initially try to locate your branch manager in person, but if for some reason he is not available you can resign with your operations manager, or even leave the letter on either individual’s desk.  Essentially, you want to simply state that you have decided to pursue another opportunity effective immediately.  Avoid getting into any kind of an extended dialogue with your manager.  If he accepts your resignation with no questions asked, he may already have had an idea that this day was coming.  You need then to immediately head over to your new firm, because as soon as you walk out his door he is calling your old colleagues and telling them to get your clients on the phone in hopes of retaining your business.

If he is truly shocked and conversation ensues, be cordial but keep it short.  He may ask you where you are headed but there is no need to inform him as this only gives him more ammunition with which to call your clients in an effort to retain them.  Your firm will find out soon enough where you ended up.

If you are a key Advisor in your branch, your manager may try to reverse your decision.  He may promise more leads, syndicate, marketing dollars, etc.  You may be asked to sit tight while they find senior management to come speak with you.  Do your best to leave expeditiously.  Remember that no matter what they promise, you have broken a level of trust.  If you stay, they will consider you damaged goods and a security risk.  Their suspicions will drive their actions limiting your ability to grow and prosper at that firm.  Promises aside, your time at that firm is over.

Finally, this is not a time to say goodbye to your colleagues.  If they truly are your friends, it doesn’t matter when you inform them.  You owe them nothing at this point.  You are simply trying to protect your clients, your family and yourself.  Remember, this is a work day and the sooner you get to your new office and begin contacting your clients the smother the transition is going to be.  Speak to your friends about your decision several weeks or months down the road.

Congratulations, you have successfully negotiated the sale of your business, pocketed a large up-front payment and set the groundwork for the next stage of your career.