Saturday, October 18, 2008

Proclaim your independence!

Navigating today’s financial markets and economic situation is difficult for any advisor. But it’s especially complex for financial consultants at the big-brand sales institutions.

Talk about uncertainty. Turmoil. Stress.

The truth of the matter is that there has never been a better time to be an independent advisor. The Wall Street Melt Down and Economic Mess was not created by Main Street Advisors. And now is a really good time to help the general public understand just that.

So, if you are currently an independent advisor, get out and spread the word!

A recently published article in the Wall Street Journal states that a whopping 83% of clients of the large Wall Street firms are considering changing advisors. Independent advisors who have planned and implemented a solid publicity campaign are in a good position to attract new clients.

“Disenchanted clients and big-brand reps are heading for the door,” says Mitch Vigeveno, President of Turning Point, Inc. (, an executive recruiting and industry consulting firm that helps disgruntled (or, on the flip side, visionary) executives and advisors find a new home in the independent broker/dealer world. But according to Vigeveno, evaluating all the choices can be overwhelming. “Without good information and guidance, too many people end up hopping from the frying pan into the fire,” he says.

John Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®, a long-time financial advisor who is also President of independent broker/dealer U.S. Wealth Management LLC (member FINRA/SIPC, adds his advice for the big-brand brokers:

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people – people just like your clients and you know what they are saying? They are telling me that their advisor isn’t as smart as they once thought. ‘Doesn’t he read the headlines? Doesn’t she know that his firm is going down, or has gone down? Doesn’t he know that under new ownership everything will be different?’”

“Clients are really concerned that their advisor really doesn’t care about them,” Napolitano adds. “They think the most important thing to their advisor right now is the advisor’s trailing income – and, frankly, they might be right.”

So here’s the deal:

If you are thinking about going independent, now is a golden time. But, if you’ve been at a wirehouse or other big-name firm, going pure RIA is probably not the right choice.

“Most of the advisors who join us after having left a big firm appreciate the fact that my firm, which functions as a Securities America branch office (one of the nation’s largest, independent broker/dealers, member FINRA/SIPC,, can provide more freedom and flexibility than they’ve had in the past along with a collaborative team environment and all of the big firm services they’ve grown to love,” says Bill Glubiak, managing principal of Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC (

Cedar Brook is a Private Wealth Management Firm established in July 2005 by 13 people with over 100 years of combined industry experience. With more than 50 financial professionals, Cedar Brook differs dramatically from other independent firms composed of only a few individuals.

“Hybrid advisors – those who are affiliated with an independent broker/dealer yet still licensed to offer fee-based services as either an RIA or an IAR – are going to come out ahead in the long run,” says David Drucker, CFP®, founder of Drucker Knowledge Systems ( Drucker is one of the most visible and best respected speaker/writers in the financial planning industry.

“Whatever your thinking may be, there has NEVER been a better time to change firms. When else do you think that your clients will welcome a stack of paper with ‘sign here’ sticky notes? The time is NOW,” Napolitano says.

So...What's "Going Independent" All About? According to Vigeveno:
  • It's about CHOICE
  • It's about FREEDOM
  • It's about FLEXIBILTY
  • It's about BUILDING EQUITY
  • It's about LIFESTYLE
I'll "second" Vigeveno's list above and add:
  • It's about TRANSPARENCY
  • It's about putting CLIENTS' NEEDS FIRST

John Napolitano wrote the book The Complete Idiots Guide to Success as a Personal Financial Planner (Penguin, December 2007). A sought after speaker in financial planning circles, he delivers dozens of speeches to attentive financial advisor and CPA groups each and every year.

You can sign up for his free newsletter here and access his blog here

I asked John to share some additional insights via a telephone interview I conducted September 26, 2008. John was once a fee-only (no commission) advisor, but returned to an independent broker/dealer model in due time.

Curious to know why?

Click the “play” button to hear our conversation now.

MP3 File