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Industry Spotlight > RIAs

Henry Ford and the Need for Flexibility

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In the early 1900′s, Henry Ford said, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one–and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.” This could have been his mission statement, if he had one.

Henry launched the Model T in 1908 and sold it for $825. The price was reduced each year until 1916, when it sold for $360. He also paid his workers a handsome wage far above the average which drew the best mechanics in Detroit to Ford Motor. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model Ts and things were good. For years, the Model T was available in only one color, black. Ford Motor Company produced 15,007,034 Model T’s in 1927, a record that stood for 45 years. Henry was focused, determined, and unwavering. He eventually found out that being focused and determined were preferable to unwavering. You see, the competition was now offering a more modern auto AND with payment plans. Even though his son Edsel, who was now running the company, urged his father to change, Henry did not waiver. In the mid 1920s, sales of the Model T began to decline. Henry finally relented and in the late 20s made the Model A. During the next decade he finally offered financing.

This is just one example of what can happen when we refuse to change. Had Henry not adapted to the changes in the marketplace, he likely would have gone out of business.

We have all heard that the only certainty is change. There are significant changes occurring in our industry as we speak. During the 1970s and 80s, cold calling was the primary method of gaining new prospects. In the 90s, financial planning began to take root and by the end of the century, it was ranked as the number one profession to be in. Large firms quickly (quickly is a relative term) adopted this as their mantra and the race for the gold was on. As the pendulum swings back and forth, one cannot deny the trend toward the RIA platform.

If you’re stuck in the wirehouse world and have never tasted independence, through either the RIA or independent B/D model, I can say this for sure: Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never go back


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