In the second of a two part series, we look at the potential pitfalls of a team move from the point of view of the team in question – drawing on our experience of delivering successful moves across London, the UAE, China, South East Asia and Australia.
The potential benefits of a team move are often pretty obvious for partners and associates as much as for the firm they may be joining; keeping together a team that functions like a well oiled machine, the instant kudos of porting clients and, of course, the financial reward.
But a long list of potential upsides should not blind anyone to the possible dangers, of which there are also many – and failure to consider every scenario before committing is almost always a big mistake.
In our experience, some of the key issues and challenges to consider when thinking over the opportunity to move as a team are::
What might stop clients from following you? Don’t just assume clients will port without fuss. Think about the extent to which each client relies on specific members of the team. If those people don’t move with you, will the clients? Are any members of the team deal breakers?
Is the team really that close? Has there already been any discussion about the prospect of moving as a team? Don’t assume the team will follow without even discussing it with the others first, personalities are important and not everyone finds moving to a new firm easy.
Have you taken into account each individual’s circumstances and career aspirations? Some thought should be given to all the reasons why each team member would want to move and the personal benefit to them. Too often we’ve seen cases where there is an assumption from a lead partner that others will follow without even considering each individual’s circumstances and ambitions.
If you’re considering bringing the associates, will the current firm be able to ‘keep them fed’ without you? In some cases where the associates are almost dedicated to the partners who are leaving, the current employer has been receptive to letting them go early if they cannot find work for them elsewhere.
Can someone else easily replace you internally? Once an employer has given up trying to convince you to stay, they may go to work on your ‘number two’ and offer that person the opportunity to step into your role. That kind of scenario has two implications; it can hurt your chances of porting clients, and persuade key members of your team to stay put, rather than make the move.
Really, the key to overcoming all these possible issues is a little thought and lot of communication. The whole point of a team hire, from the recruiting firm’s point of view, is the strength of the team. If you can’t deliver that, it is best to know before you commit yourself.