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Industry Spotlight > RIAs

Advisor, Heal Thyself

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This is one of the few businesses where a person can make a physician’s wage without spending a small fortune and a large chunk of his or her adult life in the classroom. God Bless America! No complaint here.

However, if this is true, and I believe it is, does that make advisors more responsible? In other words, maybe we didn't spend eight years to become what we are, but maybe we should spend more time pursuing excellence in our craft through education. Shouldn't we be motivated to become the best version of our advisor-self? I believe the public is starting to demand it and they certainly deserve it. Just a thought.

I suppose when you peel away the many layers of the proverbial onion you get to the core character trait which enables this phenomenon of high earnings to low training to exist. That trait? Maybe it's personality. At least in my experience, some of the largest producers I've met are extremely friendly and gregarious people. Perhaps this is because they live so well? Perhaps they live so well because they are this way? In any event, salesmanship seems to have been the most desired trait by those doing the hiring. I did say, "seems to have been" didn't I? Why do I speak of this in the past tense?

Trends are often difficult to recognize and sometimes are upon us before we realize. The 1980s was a period when the cold-calling cowboy was King of the Street. In the 1990s, perhaps because the large brokerage firms realized that the commission-oriented structure was coming under fire, began to adopt a fee-based model of portfolio management. The Tulley report probably had something to do with this as well (Google it).

In any event, companies began to retrain their advisors from commissions to the fee-based model. The moniker of Stock Broker gave way to Financial Advisor and the trend was on. Financial planning was also gaining recognition, and popularity among the public, and companies jumped on this bandwagon too.

Then came the RIA. Not that RIAs haven't been around for a while, it's just that they were quietly doing their thing in the corner of the room without much notice. Today, RIA's are not only gaining ground, but putting serious pressure on the entire brokerage model as advisors have begun to realize that in many cases, their big-box employer is mostly interested in turning a profit. As I've said before, in the employer-advisor-client triangle, it's not always win-win-win. Many times it's the client who comes out on the short end of the stick.

What do you think?


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