Ric Edelman is possibly the only financial advisor known by people who don’t work with one. He has a syndicated radio call-in show, a TV series on public television and nine books to his name, many best sellers.
Most important for financial advisors, he’s run his financial advisory firm for 30 years, growing it from a small firm that he founded with his wife, Jean, to a financial powerhouse. The firm manages about $18 billion in assets distributed among almost 77,000 accounts belonging to over 30,000 clients and sponsors seminars across the country. It employs about 125 advisors working in roughly 40 offices across the U.S. and serves, in addition to individual investors, 401(k) plans and institutional investment accounts.
Along the way, Barron’s named Edelman the No. 1 financial advisor three times since 2009, as well as the No. 2 advisor and No. 3 advisor one time each. Edelman took his firm public, then private, selling a majority stake to Lee Equity Partners, which subsequently sold its stake to another PE firm, Hellman & Friedman – the firm that helped take LPL Financial private.
(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Edelman Financial Services Names Former LPL Exec as CEO)
Last May, Edelman, who remains the firm’s largest single shareholder, gave up his role as CEO to become executive chairman and focus on financial education and advice. Ryan Parker, a former LPL executive, became the new CEO.
The latest move by Edelman, now 58, is not surprising given his focus on the individual investor and putting clients first. He started his career as a financial journalist and investor frustrated by his search for a financial advisor, which might also explain his commonsense approach to financial advice.
“I did something in the 1980s and early 1990s that can’t be done today,” says Edelman, who recalls that when he started in radio with his own show in the early 1990s after guesting on others, he became a member of the SAG-AFTRA and was paid for his show.
“That model doesn’t exist now,” says Edelman. “The radio industry sells that air time as an infomercial.” In other words, an advisor today would have to pay to have a radio show, not the other way around.
Edelman recommends that rather than trying to become a “media broadcaster” like himself, an advisor today should be a “narrow caster,” specializing in a certain type of client
“Decide you will be the expert of financial planning for plumbers,” says Edelman.” Go to their conventions, write articles for plumbing magazines. Over time you will develop a reputation for expertise in that specialty.” That’s the key to long-term success, says Edelman.
He also suggests that advisors have specialists in their own shops. “If you don’t have the skill set of a communicator, hire someone who does.” Edelman has writers, meeting planners, graphic designers and digital experts as well as financial planners working at his firm.