It's been nearly six years since I took the plunge and opted to shift my business model from working for a wirehouse to becoming an independent registered investment advisor. I've been chronicling my journey on this website and in the pages of Investment Advisor for about five and a half years.
[See here the first Investment Advisor article from Mike’s Road to Independence series from 2007; see his first of many blogs on going independent here; view a selection of his "Road to Independence" articles here, and view all of Mike’s articles—covering everything from client communications to Monte Carlo use— here.-Ed.]
Today, I'm happy to report that January 2013 is shaping up to be my best month so far! If you're an advisor working for a large wirehouse or bank, I would encourage you to consider independence. Sure, there are pros and cons to independence as with any platform, but in the end, if you are self-motivated, independence may be a desirable choice.
I am in the midst of review season and have an interesting situation. Even though my number of clients continues to rise, fewer are opting to review their account. When I inquire, I hear comments like, "I trust you are doing what needs to be done." Trust is the single most important thing a client needs to possess and I am elated to know that my clients seem to have it. Elated, and yet humbled. Human nature being what it is, it's often true that when we reach a certain goal we often stop doing the things that got us there. In other words, we tend to rest on our laurels. That’s a mistake I hope to avoid.
Letter to Clients
In an effort to enhance my communication with my clients, and address the review issue, I have made a proposal to all clients: to send them a periodic letter with an explanation of my actions. It’s similar to a "letter to shareholders," you might say. The letter would contain two sections. Section one would discuss my thoughts on the economy and financial markets. Section two would provide them with an explanation of some of the actions I have taken and why.
As I make changes in clients’ accounts, this would provide an opportunity to inform them of my reasoning behind the moves. I also recognize that clients are busy and the letter will allow me to keep them informed in a concise format which requires a minimal time commitment on their part. I have to say clients’ response to my offer has been overwhelmingly positive.
I will close this post by saying that independence is great and I highly recommend it to anyone that seeks to run their own business and provide clients with a high level of personalized service. Because that's what it's all about!