Happy Summer! Can you believe that half of the year is already behind us? July is always a great month to take some time off, smell the roses and on a professional level, assess your practice so as to gear up for a strong second half of the year.

Independence Day is my favorite of all national holidays as it signifies so much of who we are as a country and that we are as prosperous as we are. On the theme of independence, this is a great time of year to also acknowledge the freedom and independence we exert as a financial community. Can you imagine if we did not have the flexibility and latitude to utilize our unique creativity in providing financial advice to clients? Just try to envision a scenario where all advisors were limited in what we can provide to our clients. I believe the results of such a structure would be atrocious as clients would be given fewer options and we would essentially operate with handcuffs.

I look towards the second half of the year with overwhelming optimism. This year, the Rand report assessed the state of our industry with a specific focus on the consumer and their perception of financial advisors. While some may perceive such report as negative, I take a different approach. At this point in the game, I am all about educating the public and making sure they are fully aware of their options and who the players are in the industry.

Although the Rand report has not led to any substantive changes yet, it represented the opening dialogue in a debate that will surely continue. My only hope is that it ultimately leads to changes that are constructive for the industry and the end consumer. I would encourage each of my colleagues to read the Rand report. It will help put things into perspective for you not only on the state of affairs of the industry today but also on the likely direction of things to come.

We also saw Treasury Secretary Paulson make a sweeping proposal to change how the entire industry gets regulated. If his ideas came to fruition, they would impact everybody in the industry, including insurance agents, securities brokers and investment advisors. While I do not necessarily agree with everything Paulson stated, I do think that some regulatory change is needed. Our system of regulation is flawed in some aspects and this seems to always come back to paint a negative picture of the financial community. I am in favor of making regulation more transparent and efficient, again in an effort to strengthen what we do as advisors and ultimately make it easier for the consumer to make the most informed decisions for themselves.

There have been no major changes yet, but I do think that the opening bell has rung and Rand and Paulson represent changes that will come eventually — changes that I think are necessary as long as they benefit all parties involved and allow financial advisors and consumers to remain independent in their actions.

In the meantime, let’s take this opportunity to appreciate what true independence means — both as a country and as a multi-trillion dollar industry poised to provide much needed advice and service to our great citizens. I hope the second half of the year includes real improvements to our industry and that it is more profitable and gratifying for you than you ever imagined.