(Dow Jones) The team structure is nothing new to Wall Street brokerages. Nor is the idea that it can make it harder for restless advisors to break away, and take clients with them.

In some cases, however, partnerships have made it easier for teams to move to another broker-dealer or start their own independent firm.

"It can work both ways," said Alois Pirker, a research director at research and advisory firm Aite Group.

While some financial advisors, perhaps especially those with the largest accounts, may find it harder to part ways, others may find leaving as a group a less frightening prospect than truly going it alone.

Brokerages have been encouraging financial advisors to form teams for at least a decade, to ensure continuity for clients, mentors for young advisers and subject-matter experts for investors' wide-ranging needs. That an adviser and his clients would become entangled in a larger group was an added bonus.

The more complex a team's business, the more those brokers rely on the resources of a large financial service firm, industry observers said. Financial advisors whose clients depend on their affiliated investment bank for products and services, such as new issues, may find it difficult to leave a full-service institution.

Indeed, research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates found that midsize teams managing between $75 million and $200 million in assets are more likely to move than their larger counterparts.

As teams grow and broaden their service model, "they become more entrenched at the wirehouse," said Bing Waldert, a Cerulli director and lead author of the company's recent research report. "It's tougher to pull them out of that."

Deciding whether and where to move can be a more complicated decision when multiple people are involved, said Mindy Diamond, president of executive-search firm Diamond Consultants. She is currently working with the principals of a large wirehouse team who want to move but disagree on whether to join another big brokerage or start their own firm.

Another complicating factor can be disparate deferred-compensation or promissory-note terms among team members.

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