From the May 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

It's All Personal

What sets independent advisors apart is the personal advice you give to clients. Your technology tools may be great, your investment strategy may be a world beater, your office armchairs may be oh so comfortable, yet in the end it is you, the person, on whom the success of your practice rides. That's not just you, the principal of the firm, but every partner and employee in your firm. That's not just you and the members of your nuclear team, no, the personal connection extends to those investment and technology and custody or broker/dealer and back-office partners with whom you choose to ally your firm.

That's why the IA 25, our annual listing of the most influential people in and around the profession, is not just fun for the editors of this magazine to hash out, but also mirrors what's best about the independent advice model. These 25 women and men are accomplished in different ways--some are researchers, others legislators or regulators, still others leaders of companies who for better or worse will affect your lives in the future, in our opinions, and some are advisors themselves who have blazed trails for their peers to follow.

Then there's a fellow named Mark Tibergien, who made a name for himself in this business by advising advisors on how to be better business people. It's a message that has encountered some resistance from those who believe independent advice givers should eschew the profit-driven motive that drove them out of those nasty wirehouses and insurance companies. For those well-meaning but misguided individuals who plan on dying with their boots on, the independent approach is more of a spiritual quest than a business. For those who put their clients' needs first, however, building a business that will endure past the retirement or death of its founder is not just admirable, it's the right thing to do for those clients. They deserve it. So do their heirs. You can also do it without losing your personal touch. Now as the leader of Pershing Advisor Solutions, Mr. Tibergien will be watched even more closely by his admirers and detractors. I suspect he will succeed in surprising ways, using his intellectual heft and his cutting wit.

Over the past six months or so the Investment Advisor editorial team has gone through many changes. Our parent firm was acquired by another private equity firm, whose management decided to institute some changes to take advantage of the synergies afforded a larger organization, which resulted in layoffs of production staff. Those changes included the abandonment of a software program we all relied on and adoption of new software which we use to produce the magazine. Our office was closed, and most of the editorial staff moved to new digs in Hoboken, New Jersey, a much longer commute for nearly all of us. Several staffers now work, most of the time, from their homes. You probably haven't noticed any disruption at all, and that's because it is the same people reporting and writing and editing and art directing for the magazine and the Web site. You see, it's personal for us, too.

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