November 8, 2010

At Retirement Symposium, Reminders From Tibergien on Advisor Best Practices

The best firms spend more on their human capital, Pershing Advisor Solutions' CEO reports

Mark Tibergien speaking at the RIS in Chicago on Monday. Mark Tibergien speaking at the RIS in Chicago on Monday.

“You have a choice,” said Mark Tibergien on Monday afternoon to the 120 attendees of the 3d Annual Retirement Income Symposium (RIS) in Chicago. First, he said, you can choose to stay small and uncomplicated—“keeping it simple.” Second, you can decide to “transform your practice into a professionally managed business.” Third, said the CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, you can “muddle through, waiting for that one big client or that one big market surge.”

Tibergien, the former Moss Adams consultant and longtime Investment Advisor columnist, then detailed the steps that advisors need to take if you choose option two—building a professionally managed business.

“If you decide to grow, you’ll have to manage people,” which is not necessarily a skill-set that most advisors naturally have. “Many of you will merge with other firms,” he predicted, and then proclaimed what was still the major challenge for the advisor industry: an “acute talent shortage” at the same time that research has suggested that the industry will need at least 9,000 new RIAs in the years ahead.

Since the average age of the independent advisor is 55, the other change is that while advisors at that age have accumulated plenty of wisdom, their energy levels are beginning to diminish, said Tibergien who stressed that his advice was “just focused on your business, not on how you provide advice.”

One of the bigger challenges for many smaller- and midsize firms, Tibergien warned,  will be the recent diktat under the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law that RIA firms with less than $100 million in AUM will move to state oversight from SEC regulation. “It will be an amazing complication for many advisors,” he said.

Speaking of best practices for the top-performing advisory firms, Tibergien pointed out that they “spend more money on people.” Firms with a specific human capital strategy, he reported, are “distinguishing themselves in many ways, especially in becoming the employer of choice” in their geographic region.

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