Hoping to attract a top-tier wealth management executive? Offering equity is no longer optional — it's mandatory.

"In this market, equity is now table stakes if you want to hire the best and the brightest executives," says Kathy Freeman, president of an eponymous executive search firm that just released its annual survey of wealth management executives. "In the past, top advisors considering changing firms would take less cash in exchange for equity. Those days are long gone. Equity participation is now the starting point for any offer."

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