During Tom Bradley’s welcoming speech at the 14th annual TD Ameritrade Institutional conference last month, the ebullient Mr. Bradley was waxing on about certain (to him) incendiary remarks made by a certain executive at a major wirehouse firm on a cable TV show. This executive had appeared on CNBC several weeks prior to his speech, disputing the notion that the wirehouse model was somehow flawed, and that clients of those big Wall Street firms found it comforting to be affiliated with a major bank in such uncertain times.
Now in high dudgeon as he recalled listening to those remarks, and reaching an emotional climax that was clearly appreciated by the 1,200 or so RIAs who were attending the conference, the long-time president of TD Ameritrade Institutional wondered rhetorically why those CNBC anchors didn’t call this executive on such a preposterous statement. From deep within the audience a voice shouted out, “Who advertises with CNBC?”
Advisors, burned one too many times by mutual fund wholesalers or conflicted investment banks or broker/dealer recruiters or LP snake-oil salesmen, are now not merely skeptics but full-blown cynics when it comes to just about everybody in this business except their clients and their employees or partners. When it comes to financial services companies in particular, advisors rightly turn a gimlet eye on those who claim that this time it’s different, and on those who winkingly repeat the mantra that past performance is no guarantee of future results but then suggest the opposite.