When it comes to compliance, mike leonetti has a matter-of-fact attitude that led him to hire a chief compliance officer--John O'Brien--in 1997 for his now 22-year-old Buffalo Grove, Illinois firm, Leonetti & Associates. For Leonetti, taking responsibility for compliance is simply "part of building a business." O'Brien not only peruses all marketing material for the practice, he also spot-checks client statements to ensure the accuracy of performance figures, and pre-approves the firm's client e-newsletters. "Many planners may be great technicians or great relationship people," notes Leonetti, "but compliance work is tedious. You need a person who likes the details."
Staying compliant using O'Brien and customized GoldMine contact management software has not only helped Leonetti handily survive three SEC audits, it's benefited him in a not-so-obvious way. "It helped me get one of my key advisors," he says. "He went through a search trying to find [unblemished] firms that had been in business at least 10 years in the Chicago area." That's how he discovered the firm.--James J. Green