The entire industry owes both your firms a big thank you for creating Protocol. Your vision has fundamentally changed the industry for the better over the last 13 years, and your firms take two-thirds of the credit. Protocol is highly regarded and loved nationwide by firms, advisors, and the clients who were introduced to Protocol by their advisors who used it. The only ones not happy Protocol was born are litigation lawyers.
Your two firms were two of the parents who brought Protocol into this world, and to our industry. We know that you may feel Protocol has grown from its infancy into an awkward, oversized, and sometimes rebellious 13-year old teenager. We all know how some teenagers can be, bringing their friends over and eating all the food in your frig, taking a lot more from you than they give back, and maybe not growing up they way you had envisioned.
Most everyone in the industry knows why you’re considering leaving Protocol, it’s how you plan to leave that is concerning to your advisors. If other Protocol firms don’t approve of your potential isolationist strategy, that is of course not your concern. You owe nothing to your competitors, especially those firms who you may feel turned your teenager against you.
We know you don’t have to give your competitors notice of exiting Protocol and understand why you may not want to. The Protocol your firms founded states: “A signatory to this protocol may withdraw from the protocol at any time and shall endeavour to provide 10 days’ prior written notice of its withdrawal to all other signatories hereto.” The word “endeavour” means “try” and endeavour or try certainly does not mean “shall” or “will.”
We also know you don’t have to provide your advisors with a Prexit notice as well. We hope that you don’t view your advisors and Protocol firms in the same way. One group used Protocol to take from you, but the other group used Protocol to join you.
Nearly every recruited advisor who has joined your firms in the last 13 years did so knowing if the relationship didn’t turn out as they may have hoped, due to countless variables and reasons, that they could use Protocol, in good faith, to join a different firm in the same way they originally joined yours.
Providing your advisors who joined your firm under Protocol the adequate notice to have the option to also leave under Protocol, if they choose, would show your advisors and the industry that you value the bond between your advisors and their clients, that you deal fairly with your advisors, and have confidence in your own firm’s value proposition.
We ask and even plea, that you consider an alternative path to the one chosen by Morgan Stanley, and instead demonstrate corporate character and integrity in how you exit.
If you provided adequate notice of an exit, there would be some advisors that would leave. Every firm has some advisors who no longer feel culturally aligned anymore with their firm, or has developed different goals or preferences that may make them a better match elsewhere. The overwhelming majority of your advisors will stay put. If they wanted to leave, most would have done so already.
For your happy advisors to know that, though they stayed, they were given the opportunity to leave, will generate good will, respect, and renewed loyalty, instead of harbouring resentment.
Most of the industry is disheartened by the possibility of your firms following the Morgan Stanley Prexit, and are speculating on the ramifications to the virtually industrywide peace treaty. While the decisions your firms will make regarding Protocol and your future involvement are unclear to the rest of us at present, we do have both your firms to thank for the decisions you made in the past in establishing Protocol in the first place.
However, if you exit Protocol with little or no notice to advisors over the upcoming holidays because advisors will be on vacation with their loved ones, so you can make it even more difficult for them, then you would not only be anti-Protocol you truly would be anti-advisor.
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