Financial Advisory Firms Seek to Prevent “Disharmony” on Large Teams

Posted on May 16th, 2023 at 1:26 PM
Financial Advisory Firms Seek to Prevent “Disharmony” on Large Teams

From the desk of Jim Eccleston at Eccleston Law 

Financial advisory firms and company executives continue to promote organizing as a team, which supposedly creates an improved service model for clients.

However, managers have begun to discover that teaming may create immense challenges and lead to infighting, which could be particularly problematic at smaller branch offices. A lack of a defined career path, disagreements related to compensation, or placing employees in the wrong roles can create “dysfunction or disharmony”, according to Sterling Shea, a former Barron’s and Dow Jones executive who heads Morgan Stanley’s Practice Strategy unit. Shea further noted that dysfunction can occur even among family-based teams, which constitutes a large portion of the teams at Morgan Stanley.

“Mega teams” of five or more advisors are growing in popularity, but their increased size could potentially cause further disharmony among employees. Merrill Lynch, as another example, is concerned with “burnout on some of these larger teams,” and ensuring that each employee understands “the whole team is in service of the collective”, according to Danielle Papandrea, a managing director at Merrill. Merrill recommends that teams participate in day-long retreats outside of the office where employees are encouraged to share stories about helping clients and discuss what is working well for them. Shea and other industry experts note that larger teams will likely become the new gold standard, primarily because “they’re winning a greater share of wallet and referrals and earning that because of the client experience they can deliver it in a team format.”


Eccleston Law LLC represents financial advisors and investors nationwide in securities, employment, transition, regulatory and disciplinary matters.

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Marci M.


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