From the December 2005 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Transition From Transactions

Harold Evensky started in the investment business after years as a homebuilder, getting licensed as a broker at a large brokerage firm. When he started making cold calls, the rejection he faced made him rethink his approach to the investment business. He saw a story about the College for Financial Planning and enrolled, and that changed his focus from transaction-oriented to financial planning-oriented. That led him to create the firm where he now is chairman, Evensky & Katz Wealth Management in Coral Gables, Florida.

Changes in market cycles and the proliferation of products has made planning "significantly more complex," says Evensky. The progressive thinking in terms of Modern Portfolio Theory gave planners a new approach to the whole process of financial planning. "Years ago when the wirehouses first offered financial planning, it was a product-sales vehicle," says Evensky. The big change, "an extremely positive" one, he argues, came a few years ago when these firms realized, at the very senior level, that financial planning is a process, not a product delivery tool.

"I think that there has been a huge psychological change in the financial services world--very much for the better." Evensky thinks more positive change is coming as the "Merrill Lynch rule" takes effect in January, adding that he believes that "anyone who says they provide advice for a fee ought to be a RIA. However, I think that the rule is extraordinarily powerful." He thinks that brokers will rapidly migrate to RIA status, changing from a transaction-oriented approach to an advice-oriented approach. "If we step back and say, 'What's best for the public?' [it's that] every broker in the country had to be a CFP and act as a RIA. There are not enough of us to serve everybody."

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