“Why,” asked a noted advisor, “is there not more of a buzz about these regulatory changes that will affect all our lives?” After a few more interchanges, the advisor, whose identity will remain unspoken because this was a casual conversation, answered his own question. “It’s because we’re all so busy” running our practices and serving clients, he said. This conversation took place on a Chicago night during the NAPFA national conference and highlighted the still precarious advocacy standing of the independent advisor.
In case you haven’t noticed, this is conference season for advisors. Just within the late April to early June time frame, there are national conferences being held by IMCA, Envestnet, the FPA, the ICI, Raymond James and Pershing. That’s not counting events like the CFA Institute’s national confab that ran concurrent with NAPFA in the Windy City. While the leaders of the groups and companies sponsoring these gatherings all talked, and likely will talk, about the SEC and FINRA, the state of Dodd-Frank, an SRO for advisors and the fiduciary standard, the buzz at each of these events from advisors themselves was more practical.
The challenge of being an independent advisor is that you’re all running businesses that take up your time and energy. In what remains an era of challenging and volatile markets coupled with a slow-growth economy, and with cautious clients who may have been burned during the 2008-2009 crisis and demand more hand-holding, it might seem like it’s all you can do to keep your head above water.