Changing firms and setting up your own practice when everything is steady and life is good can seem to violate the maxim, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
However, I believe times of relative calm can be precisely the ideal time to execute a change if you are well-prepared.
I made my first move in July 2005 after just 3 years in the industry. Luckily, those were 3 years coming off the market bottom in 2002 and I was doing well both personally and professionally.
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Therefore, I was able to get ready and go without any outside chaos and make a smooth transition for me and my clients. When I made the move to independence in early September 2009, things were slightly more "interesting," since we were less than 6 months past a generational stock market decline. However, the market had bounced about 50% in that time, so the scariest times had passed.
There is rarely a "perfect" time to move, but I strongly believe in having a plan ready, so that you can take action when the time is right. Make the investment of exploring and planning your options. It will pay off.
"Dig your well before you're thirsty." --Harvey Mackay