When it comes to an innovative business model, West Palm Beach, Florida-based Contemporary Financial Solutions may have the most unique business plan: it welcomes lower producing representatives and treats them like VIPs. The plan seems to be working, since the reps that have signed on seem truly devoted to Contemporary Financial Solutions (CFS) and gave it the highest marks of any B/D in Division I, making it Broker/Dealer of the Year in the smallest of the divisions.
Insurance producers selling traditional fixed insurance are "by far our largest segment," says Scott Yamamura, group president of CFS, "maybe 20% of their income comes from securities." Alternatively, CFS's reps might be CPAs, or attorneys, and may be semi- or fully retired.
In the summer Dan Mayer, owner of The Mayer Group in La Crosse, Wisconsin, plays golf in the morning and works in the afternoon. Affiliating with CFS in April 2006, after being downsized from ING Financial Partners, he has about $20 million under management, mostly in fixed insurance products. He likes the relatively small size of CFS, the "down to earth" and "responsive" people he deals with at the home office, and adds that CFS does "just as good a job, if not better, than ING" did for him.
Boomer-aged advisors approaching retirement are "a huge opportunity for us," according to Yamamura. Advisors with smaller books of business sometimes have trouble selling them, and he says CFS's Emeritus Option for Retired Representatives "works for them, because they can continue to receive some kind of income if they cannot sell their practice." Retiring reps transfer their book to CFS. CFS staff will serve the accounts, and the retired rep (or her spouse or estate if she becomes disabled or dies), will continue to receive a 50% payout of her trail commissions.
Dr. Benjamin Findley, of Pensacola, Florida, affiliated with CFS after retiring as a college professor, and now considers himself semi-retired. He serves about 50 clients, helping them with their 403(b) assets, and IRAs, mostly with mutual funds. CFS works for him because of its "flexibility," as he set up his office in his home.
With only three years in the business, CFS's 96 reps are among the most seasoned in the IA broker/dealer database, with an average of 30 years in the business. Most of the reps hold Series 6 licenses, and a handful are registered investment advisors or CFPs. CFS is a sister B/D to Mutual Service Corporation, and shares MSC's compliance and technical personnel.--Kathleen M. McBride