The Birth of a Franchise

How Registered Rep. got it's start

In the interests of full disclosure, we should tell you: This magazine was born out of an ad campaign for a cement company. Back in the mid-1970s, Tolman Geffs, an aerospace engineer-turned-advertising man, was trying to find a magazine that was aimed directly at stockbrokers. “And, by God, there wasn't one,” Geffs recalls. His client, Amcord, was a publicly traded cement company whose shares were stuck at $3 a share, yet earned $1 a share. Nothing attracted the analysts' attention. (Amcord was acquired a few years later for $36 a share.)

Geffs figured Amcord would have to take its case directly to the stockbroker himself. And, voila, the idea for The Registered Representative magazine (as this magazine was then called) was born. But in designing the magazine — the first issue was dated August/September 1976 — Geffs also noticed another opportunity: “Nobody was doing ‘how-to’ type stories for stockbrokers, either.” So Geffs got a list of brokerage management from the Securities Dealers of North America and began calling, asking to speak with their top reps at various branches.

The first issues of Rep. included almost no news — only basic, how-to stories (lots of stories on cold calling and interviews with brokers about how they hit the big time); the ads were placed by public companies seeking investors. Interestingly, by the third issue, Rep. began to hit on the themes that dominate today. Consider this first sentence from a feature in the December 1976/January 1977 issue: “Fewer firms, substantially more products and a greater sophistication on the part of both the registered rep and his client are the forecasts for the 1980s.” You could simply change the years in that sentence and it would still be just as true.

Even then the magazine argued that stockbrokers should invest based on demographic trends. One story was headlined “The Post-War Baby Boom Game,” and suggested that reps follow baby boomers, noting that stocks such as Tampax, Warnaco, Cenco Instruments (a maker of educational scientific instruments) and other companies had been doing so well because that's where “the young adult group” was. “Think about what that young adult group will be doing, what they will need, what they will buy as they come into the marketplace. It could be very revealing.”

That was 30 years ago. That young adult group, as we all know, is beginning to retire. That will have an impact on how financial advisors will be doing their jobs in the future. We here at the new Registered Rep. will continue to aim squarely at the retail financial advisor. In celebrating our 30 years, we offer some thoughts on the forces that will affect the retail financial advisor over the next 30 years.

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