5 Tips to Find the Perfect Office Space
After helping dozens of financial advisors breakout of the wirehouse then hang up their own shingle, our team has learned a few things when it comes to finding the right office space. Personally transitioning from financial advisor to COO of Kestra Private Wealth Services I’ve come to understand the equation from both sides of the table. Appreciating the advisors perspective is something that we take a lot of pride in and guides us as we work constantly to be great partners for our affialiated firms.
One of the things that strikes fear into the hearts of advisors considering independence is the unknown world of commercial real estate. This is a common concern for professionals with successful careers at the wirehouse who have never had to worry about the physical spaces their business occupies. We will address lease types and the various technicalities in the following blog. For now, let's start reducing the anxiety about real estate by getting our arms around some fundamental concepts. When switching to the independent space, there are so many things on your mind that a few key areas can often be forgotten, one of the biggest being real estate. Finding the perfect office for your new business can be daunting if you have little experience with commercial real estate, but these five tips will help you get started.
1. Ensure Your New Office Represents the Spirit of Your Firm
You have the opportunity to build your own business just the way you want it—creating your office environment is a huge part of that. When clients and prospects come to your office, you want your office atmosphere to represent the genuine you and the similarly authentic spirit of your new brand.
Whether you want a modern, open, and upbeat vibe similar to a Silicon Valley tech company or a more traditional and classic aesthetic like a long-standing law firm—make sure your office space reflects your personality and the brand identity you want to create. It is often said that we eat with our eyes first. This applies to your clients' experience with you as well. The look of your space is the beginning of the client experience. This will help you define your client experience
2. Identify a Prime Location for Your Clients
How does that old real estate saying go? Location. Location. Location. One of the most critical factors to consider when looking at a potential office space is if it's in a prime location for your existing and prospective clients. Specific points we often encourage advisors to consider; parking and building access, covered or uncovered, stairs, ramps, etc. Inside the building, lobby temperature, cleanliness, the types of businesses you'll share the location with… look closely. Do they support the look and feel you're after? From the lobby or elevator, how easy is it to find the door to your office? Long, dark hallways and confusing layouts are a no for us.
Choosing an office in a prime location offers numerous benefits for both your business and your clients. You'll have the added benefit of increasing your brand awareness since high volumes of people will be exposed to your signage and branding regularly, potentially leading to new business. Plus, your clients will enjoy being close to your office and the ease of onsite parking.
3. Plan for Future Growth
Too much or too little? Often advisors find themselves in a quandary related to their space needs. We've seen both, too much square footage and too little. The preferred problem to have to solve is too little. Another grand opening is a great client event a year or two into your new venture; explaining to clients why there's a lot of empty space is less fun. Not to mention more expensive.
Another common mistake many advisors make when searching for their office location after going independent is not anticipating the evolving needs of their business and choosing an office that only meets their current needs. Make sure you plan ahead and assess if a particular location has enough space to accommodate your future growth.
It's important to consider your current and future needs for several different aspects of your space:
- Offices for new advisors
- Conference rooms for client meetings
- Workstations for new client associates
- Or other instances where you now require extra space
Take the time to consider how you see your business growing over the next two to three years to determine if an office space will work for you today and a few years down the road.
4. Choose a Location That Creates Better Work/Life Balance
In our decade of doing this, no one has come to us saying how much they want to keep working near their current downtown megafirm office. They want to be near home, which tends to be near their clients' homes as well. Good choice. When choosing your office location, your clients aren't the only ones to consider; you still have to think about what's best for you and your team. One of the most common regrets I hear among advisors after rushing into an office space is unintentionally choosing a location that created a long commute for themselves or someone on their team.
Adding a lengthy commute to the beginning and end of the workday cuts into the time for family, friends, and golf. Not to mention if the longer commute starts to impact one of your team members, you may end up losing them because they don't want to deal with the long commute. You're creating freedom for yourself. Don't buy it back with a commute that doesn't suit what you want and what works for your clients.
Make sure you choose a location that will help you create a better work/life balance, and you'll find that you and your team are happier and more productive.
5. Involve Your Team in the Decision…If Possible
Another fear many advisors have is that their plans to move may be discovered by their current employer before they are ready to make the leap. Use your judgment about who on your team can be trusted to be brought into the process, and when. Do it carefully (and in accordance with any employment agreements you may have), or don't do it at all. But if you can, sharing with your staff may engender more trust, confidence, and buy-in about what's happening. Moving office locations is a big decision that impacts everyone on your team. Whether it affects their routines, commutes, or anything else in between—they will feel more comfortable and open to change if you're willing to involve them in the process. This will allow you to build more trust with your team by addressing their concerns and listening to their opinions on the office locations you're considering.
Going independent and starting your own business is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful when transitioning to business owner and advisor. Real estate and office spaces can be more complicated than it seems. That's why advisors who transition with Kestra Private Wealth Services love our full-service approach, not just to real estate but technology, compliance, and service. Schedule a meeting with our team today to learn how we can help you with all of your real estate and office needs, from sourcing to interior design and more!