If you are considering going independent, Charles Schwab has an interesting new survey for you. Thousands of advisors have been flowing out of wirehouses and large regional brokerages over the last few years. They have either gone completely independent or joined independent broker-dealers. In either case, a new survey from Charles Schwab shows that such advisors are very happy. In fact, 90% of advisors who have gone independent report that they have no regrets about their choice to go it alone.
FINSUM: The reality is that most advisors say that whether you become an RIA or go to an IBD, you can serve clients better and make more money at the same time. The general opinion is that with an RIA you lose a lot of structural support, but you keep everything for yourself; while with an IBD you keep more structural support and still get much higher payouts than at a wire.
A lot of advisors have been going independent lately. Whether you are moving to start your own RIA or want to join a large independent broker-dealer network, there are a lot of intricacies involved with running your own shop. Before you even think about the logistics of moving, it is important to assess whether you have the skills to succeed. There are essentially three skills that one needs to become a successful independent advisor: operational experience, in-depth relationship management skills, and sales/business development acumen. Operationally, you will likely have a tight budget when first breaking away, so understanding the nuts and bolts of the business, like migrating client accounts, is critical. Secondly, you will need to be able to concisely define the nature and scope of your relationship with clients in order to keep them happy for the long-term. Finally, you will need to be able to convince people why they should manage your money (without the weight of a wirehouse brand behind you!).
FINSUM: As a companion to the above, Michael Kitces notes that most successful independent advisors had seven years experience before going it alone.
Going independent has many upsides and downsides, but listing them as pros and cons is not particularly simple. Sure, there are higher payouts than at a wirehouse, but there is also more responsibility. In some sense, it depends on the stage of your career as an advisor as to whether going independent is the right choice. If you are senior, with your own book of high paying clients and your own office/branch, then going independent can make sense. You get higher payouts and you already have experience managing a team, and you have more product flexibility for clients. If you are younger, going independent can be more difficult since you likely need more help building your book, and don’t have experience managing people or the overheads associated with running your own branch.
FINSUM: There does seem to be a “right time” to go independent. There are a lot of perks to doing so, but one does need to have a bit of an entrepreneurial slant as you truly are a business owner in such a scenario.
Goldman Sachs has been working hard to build up its advisor business. While the firm already has very strong revenue per advisor, it is trying to build up its advisor base and boost its securities lending business. However, it has a problem—many of it advisors are jumping ship. Goldman used to be a place where advisors stuck around for years, but in the last 12 months no less than five big, high quality teams have left the firm. Two have gone to other wirehouses, three became independent. Those in the industry say more are likely to leave.
FINSUM: It looks like Goldman is experiencing the same issues as everyone else.