I most strongly disagree with the assertion by Eric Schwartz in the “The Case for the Flexible B/D” (IA September), that RIAs are “under-regulated.” He continues the B/D party line for which I have not seen a shred of evidence. Regulation of product sellers is, and should be, far different from advice givers.
As much as the B/D world would like to stem the losses in their business model, regulators should be making their decisions based upon risk to investors. For dozens of years, the risk to investors has been far less in the RIA advice giving model than the B/D product selling model and the regulations reflect that.
Regulators are not in the business of creating competitive advantages for B/Ds. If their model is no longer working because the investor sees RIAs working in their best interests, they should change their model, not seek regulatory relief from competition!
Beach Financial Advisory Service
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Refreshing to see James Green delve into marketing in the August 2008 issue, and a smart time to consider how brand makes a difference within the increasingly muddy landscape of the investment advisory world. Professionals in the space already know that the number of wealthy individuals has blown through previous benchmarks (around nine million millionaires in the U.S. alone), opening up an increasingly competitive environment for investment service providers.
I wholeheartedly agree that building a brand takes introspection, commitment, and consistency. The motivation and strategic approaches cited were on the money, although I expected to see more reference to the rise of internet tools.
On that note, I wanted to write in with an important addition to the search for differentiation. As a professional services marketer by trade, I’ve seen tactics and mindset evolve over the last decade to allow for a greater emphasis on thought leadership. To put it simply, there is no better time for experts to show the world how smart they really are.
Online delivery channels now present opportunities for firms to put their expertise on display. White papers, research articles, podcasts, blogs…more than ever, content is king. Firms that are willing to intelligently convey their knowledge, passion, and personality invite clients and referral sources to test their depth and, in the end, to trust their guidance.