As recruiters, there’s a common statement we hear from advisors: “If only [fill in the blank].”

It’s an easy fallback assertion that advisors use to justify their acceptance of the status quo. That is, they might consider a change if only some external factor did or did not exist.

Of course, some “if only” arguments are perfectly legitimate and really do serve to inform an advisor’s optionality and choice. Others are nothing more than excuses.

But often advisors respond this way because they have an outdated point of view or an unclear picture of the options available.

Here are five of the most common “if only” statements and how an advisor might reframe the mindset:

  1. “If only I were younger…”

The thinking here is that if an advisor is going to go through the hassle of a move, it only makes sense (emotionally, professionally, and financially) if they have some runway ahead of them. And there’s some sound logic to that: If an advisor is truly close to hanging up their jersey and feels like their current firm is serving them and their clients well, they likely should stay put. But age itself isn’t the right barometer for change. We have successfully transitioned advisors in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s! The question these advisors need to consider is this: “Is my current firm the right legacy for me and my clients?” If so, then great. But if not, age could be the red herring obscuring deeper issues.

  1. “If only my book were smaller…”

Is it easier to transition a book with fewer clients and accounts? Of course, it is. However, some of the most notable transitions in the past years have involved advisors with massive client and account rosters. It’s far less about the number of relationships and far more about the quality of those relationships. Said another way, 50 sticky relationships are better than 500 mediocre ones.

  1. “If only my partner felt the way I do…”

Particularly on large teams with multiple key stakeholder advisors, it’s common to find that not everyone is on the same page. So, does that mean the team is stuck in place? Not necessarily. For one, an advisor may have the ability to strike out on their own if the team no longer serves them. Additionally, advisors might be surprised to find that their team does indeed feel just as they do. Avoid guessing by engaging in open and honest conversations about this topic.

  1. “If only the grass were greener…”

In fairness, it may not be. It’s truly possible that if you look around at the entirety of the landscape, nothing will be needle-moving enough to justify the hassle of a move. But don’t be so quick to assume that’s the case. The landscape has expanded dramatically, so there may be options out there that you aren’t even aware of. While it’s true that there is no such thing as perfection anywhere, it’s possible – and even likely – that there are options out there that would enable you to serve clients better and live a more productive and fulfilling business life.

  1. “If only moving wasn’t such a hassle…”

There’s no real way around this one. A move is indeed a lot of work and comes with ample risk. But it’s a question of pain versus gain. In this case, the pain is short-lived, and the gain may have career-lasting implications. And firms have gotten much better at transitions across the board, so if you are thinking back to a previous move from 10-plus years ago, it’s worth keeping an open mind to the possibilities.

The five “if only” statements are perfectly valid, but these things also need not be a deterrent. In fact, some of these factors actually speak to the need to have a strong Plan B.

None of this is to suggest that all advisors can or should make a move. Instead, it’s to say that while sometimes these excuses are legitimate, more often than not, they serve as “head trash” that advisors use to justify sticking with the status quo, even if it isn’t ideal.

Jason Diamond is Vice President, Senior Consultant of Diamond Consultants—a nationally-recognized recruiting and consulting firm based in Morristown, N.J. that focuses on serving financial advisors, independent business owners and financial services firms.


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