From the October 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

October 1, 2008

Going It Alone

Like many advisors who choose to leave established firms where they have been employees to build independent practices where they can be their own bosses, Cathy Pareto's first task was finding clients.

"One of the greatest challenges we faced in starting this firm was that we had a non-solicitation agreement with our previous firm, which of course we honored," she recalls. "It was much harder to start from zero, and in the most turbulent market conditions that we could imagine.

"That said, it just made me want to work harder--knowing that we were starting from scratch and having to build this foundation from only our experience and our knowledge," she says. "It really moved me to want to do it better and to do it faster."

After she had hung out her own advisory shingle, Pareto did get a few calls from former clients, but told them that unfortunately she couldn't help them. "I didn't want to go down that road," she says. "I didn't want those kinds of problems; I didn't want that kind of distraction while I was trying to build a new baby."

Since old clients were off limits, that left friends and family as the starting point. "You know how when you go to a family reunion, no one really knows what you do?" she asks. "Well, I started to tell people."

From those first conversations with family members came some referrals, which turned into some clients. Both Pareto and her associate Karla Arguello attended Miami International University for undergraduate and MBA studies and built a network of young professionals for both clients and referrals from their contacts there.

In its first year of operation, Cathy Pareto and Associates has managed to draw in about 30 clients and some $8 million in assets under management.

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