This week I secured my first financial planning engagement. I’m excited about the prospects going forward. Every day I become more convinced that as advisors continue to “vend” their products to clients, the need for what I do increases. I believe there is a large segment of the market that is tired of being sold financial products. This practice has bred a healthy suspicion in the public’s mind which has created a need for my role as a “personal CFO” or “gatekeeper.” Like many of you, perhaps, I was trained in a wirehouse where finding people and selling products was the accepted way to do business. However, in my opinion this is not being client centered. We should be finding people, accessing their needs, and using products only as a means to satisfy those needs. Today, there is so much opportunity for the advisor who will truly place the client’s interests above his own. Done properly, it creates trust and instills confidence–the very thing our industry needs. I am also finding it liberating to work in an environment with no proprietary products and one that is free from the conflict of interest between client and shareholder.

I am still looking for a place to custody assets.

I feel fairly certain it will be as an RIA and not at a B/D, though the RIA route seems to be a little more difficult for a startup. One RIA custodian firm I contacted had a minimum of $30 million in AUM, another was $10 million within a certain timeframe but is somewhat flexible. Still another firm requires $5 million and apparently makes no exceptions. In any event, the RIA does seem to be a more attractive model for my situation.

I’ve also found some office space in a very nice part of town working next to another independent advisor who shares my values. We have talked about a partnership and it could materialize at some point, but more on that later.

I am still deciding on which contact management software to use. I am strongly considering ACT + FAct or ACT Premium + FAct. Is anyone using this? For financial planning I will use an Excel model I have developed over the past two years which incorporates Monte Carlo.

I look forward to hearing from you.