Have you ever considered what you would name yourself if the choice were yours and not your parents? If you could pick any name in the world, what would you pick? Would you go with a tried-and-true name (Bill!), or go with something a bit more eccentric (Moonbeam, Phinnaeus, Apple)? Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on what your name really is — our parents do name us so we can have someone to blame for rest of our lives. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
But there is another way we can exorcise our creative naming demons and still maintain our ability to have issues with our parents. We can name our business! The name we choose is called a DBA (“doing business as”) name. Those of you working for the big wirehouses may have problems here. Many brokerage firms spend an awful lot of money advertising their brand name and may not be content to dilute it with Bill’s Money Shop, LLC. If you happen to affiliate with an independent broker/dealer, however, the world is your oyster. As a former employer of mine once said, “I’ll call you anything you want; I’m just not giving you any more money!”
As a former recruiter for an independent broker/dealer, I have witnessed firsthand the struggle some financial advisors have when given the opportunity to select a DBA name they will use for all eternity. In my experience, the eventual method of choice falls into one of three categories: by name, by landmark or by quirk.
The most common is by name. I believe this is the default mode. When an advisor can’t come up with a catchy, unique name, he or she inevitably falls back to his or her own name, ending up with something like The Miller Financial Group or Miller and Associates. While this sounds official, it can be a problem if you are alone in your business. The last thing you want is the SEC or NASD in your office wanting to know where the hell the rest of your group is. They may not buy the argument that the mailman, garbage man and donut lady down the street are all associates. Another possible issue is the name itself. If your last name is Crook, Con, Thief, or Swindle, you may want to consider a different name.