Wealth Advisors Embracing Their Independence
By Tony Batman, chairman and chief executive officer, 1st Global 
Current events can often dictate wealth advisor behavior, particular when it comes to the prospect of becoming an independent advisor. With financial markets riding high and tax season behind us, many CPA firms that sat on the sidelines are now re-engaged and looking for new ways to boost their bottom lines and explore the growth component our industry: wealth management. For the last five years, CPA firms have seen a difficult path to growth, managing low single-digit revenue gains. CPA firms are searching for new slices of opportunity to showcase their consulting opportunities and feel confident about wealth management capabilities.
A recent Fidelity study confirms a continued shift from the wirehouse channel to Independent Broker Dealer and Registered Investment Advisor channels. We’ve seen this shift for years, but some interesting statistics came to light that underscore much of the rationale for going independent.
- Advisors who became independent instead of being associated with specific products earn 38 percent more in compensation in 2012 vs. 2008 over those who moved to a non-independent firm (16 percent)
- Newly independent advisors increased their investable assets with existing clients (“share of wallet”) by more than 54 percent
- Just as important, 89 percent of advisors were happy with their decision
- Other top motivators included confidence that clients would follow, reputation of the new firm and the prospect of achieving better work-life balance
When viewed through one lens, all these findings start to tell a bigger story. The reason the independent side of the wealth management business continues to grow is due in large part to entrenched organic growth within firms. These firms are now free of pushing proprietary product lines and can incorporate newfound marketing and prospecting techniques to help turn their practices into high performance market dominators. You start to see a clearer picture of how advisors are able to better position a practice to reflect their clients’ needs, while not sacrificing their dignity or the bottom line. Best yet, the vast majority of advisors are happy with their decision to embrace independence.
At 1st Global, advisors are leveraging our consultative approach to wealth management and critical matters such as succession planning. We consult with growing tax and law firms to help groom and integrate new advisors to a financial services environment. The philosophies of independent wealth management align perfectly with many CPA firms – the virtues and ethics of independence are some of the key tenets in the DNA of many CPA firms. The model that a CPA firm relies on includes independent, objective advice that is free from any conflict of interest. It’s why the vast majority of CPA firms work with an independent (RIA or IBD) advisor model in the delivery of wealth management service to their clients. Your same standards of independence can bloom even further when aligning with 1st Global. We support your firm with everything it needs for a wealth management practice, including securities brokerage services, fee-based asset management, insurance services and retirement planning.
Many of our newly transitioned advisor groups report similar findings. Our Practice Development Group provides one-on-one support to advisors to assist with the integration of financial services into your practice. Our 20-year track record of helping CPA firms embrace independence speaks for itself.
Is it time for you to embrace your independence?
Tony Batman is founder and chief executive officer of 1st Global, a research and consulting partner for high-achieving CPA firms offering wealth management. 1st Global provides CPA, tax and estate planning firms the education, technology, business-building framework and client solutions that make these firms leaders in their professions through dedicated professional client relationships built around wealth management.
1st Global Capital Corp. is a member of FINRA and SIPC and is headquartered at 12750 Merit Drive, Suite 1200 in Dallas, Texas 75251; (214) 294-5000. Additional information about 1st Global is available via the Internet at www.1stGlobal.com .
¹ Fidelity Insights on Independence, March 2013