NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - When financial adviser Mike Gegen made the final decision to leave his job at RBC Capital Markets to move to Baird Financial Group, he resigned on May 23, the Friday morning before the three-day Memorial Day weekend, and within one hour, he was on the phone persuading clients to move with him.
Gegen, who managed $100 million in client assets at RBC Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of the Royal Bank of Canada, found himself in a situation familiar to any broker who has ever changed firms: he was in a race against his former colleagues to call his clients and win their future business.
“In our industry, it is a tug-of-war,” Gegen said. “Firms view clients as their clients, and of course we view them as our relationships. For me, having the third day was a big help.”
Moving firms over a long weekend is an old tactic dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, when brokerage firms who heard about departing brokers would rush to the courthouse seeking temporary restraining orders to prevent those advisers from communicating with clients.
Advisers who left late on the day before a long holiday weekend had a jump start back then, because the courts were closed.
But headhunters and industry specialists say fewer advisers move on holiday weekends now, in part because a 2004 protocol prevents firms from seeking temporary restraining orders, and also because brokers and firms don’t want to interrupt clients while they are enjoying those long breaks.
Regular, non-holiday weekends are still a common time to move firms. The two-day hiatus gives advisers extra time to call clients, allows them to leave after receiving a final pay check and often simply feel like a comfortable time to make a break, advisers have said.
Laser App is a software program used by job-hopping advisers to transfer clients’ accounts. A review of the software’s usage over the last year showed no noticeable spikes in activity around long weekends, said Robert Powell, vice president at Laser App Software. Use of the software spiked on New Year’s Day and over several weeks in early fall 2013, Powell said.
To be sure, some advisers like Gegen still elect to move on long weekends, because they want as much time as possible to track down and talk with clients.
But many more brokers appear to be moving mid-week or on normal weekends. The same day Morgan Stanley announced Goodson’s move, it announced it hired four other advisers on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the last week of June.
“Long weekends are no longer the thing that everybody shoots for,” said Danny Sarch, a broker recruiter in White Plains, New York. “The problem is the clients don’t want to hear from you-they want to enjoy the holiday weekend.”
Chris Knust, a former Morgan Stanley adviser who managed $147 million in client assets before he moved to Ameriprise on Friday, May 9, said he chose a normal weekend for personal convenience.
Knust said he’s happy with his choice because he did not have to risk interrupting clients’ holidays and because he doesn’t think the three-day weekend would have bought him much competitive space anyway.
“I don’t know that one additional day would have made a material difference,” Knust said. “The people who are going to prospect your clients are already prospecting your clients.” (Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Linda Stern and Lisa Shumaker)