Shrinking Wall Street?

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Oct 18, 2008 2:19 am

I remember seeing articles in the past about something that occurred in England in the 90's where the number of financial advisors decreased from hundreds of thousands to ten's of thousands.



Does anybody else remember seeing this stuff?



Oct 19, 2008 8:01 pm

It happened right here in the good old US of A in the 1970s.

 
If I were in production I would be scared to death of a market where the averages go sideways for years and years.
 
We're already facing the reality that money invested in 1998 is flat and money invested since then is down.
 
We're also being innundated with stories about real estate being available for a song.  It won't take long for Bob and Sue to decide to stop contributing to the rat hole that is the stock market and use that money to help manage a portfolio of rental properties.
 
Great prices, great leverage and loans are available to people with decent credit and a downpayment--it will be more difficult to get loans for non-owner occupied properties.
Oct 19, 2008 8:11 pm

I do think there will be much fewer advisors when this is all said and done.  I've come across a number of advisors that have been in business for 15+ years that are sick and tired of this stuff.  It's not fun for them anymore and they don't have the desire to prospect at all. 

 
What I hope doesn't happen is that this has the effect on people that the crash in 1929 did...where a whole generation was afraid of the stock market.
 
There could be potentially a lot of people that just give up on the market for good.  That will impact the advisors out there.
 
I have to say though, it hasn't been as much fun going to the office everyday as it used to be.  I believe I can do helpful things for people that should help them in the long run, but it gets frusturating when people don't want to hear how we can help, even if they might need it.
Oct 19, 2008 8:24 pm

The CEO of Bank of America is on Sixty Minutes right now.  He just said that brokers at Merrill make too much money.



I believe that the percentage of AUM model is going to disappear in
favor of base salaries with bonuses based on profitablity of a cost
center will be replacing them.



It's criminal that clients pay 100 to 200 basis points to some guy or
gal who very likely knows less about the markets than the client does.



In short, it's a scam and bankers have long resented it--now that they own the brokerage firms they'll correct it.



The Indy Channel cannot be far behind.  Banks have an manifest
destiny style claim on all of the citizen's assets--and recent
developments have made it more possible than ever.

Oct 19, 2008 8:31 pm

Putsy, how do you think your theory about salary/bonus compensation will affect the insurance world?

Oct 19, 2008 8:42 pm
deekay:

Putsy, how do you think your theory about salary/bonus compensation will affect the insurance world?







Until the banks buy the insurance companies they should remain much like they are.



However, the insurance firms are standing in line for bail outs
too--and the government is buying the banks, so they may enable banks
to buy insurance companies.



Actually, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid would love to
do away with the insurance companies altogehter and let government do
what they do.



I do think that you should be prepared to have the tax deferred status
of annuities disappear--there is a bill to do that introduced every
year.  Next year could be the watershed year where ideas like that
actually make past the Senate and the Oval Office.



Additionally, look for them to siphon off a one-time 15% surcharge on
all retirement plans, annuities and so forth.  It's only fair,
those with such plans have so much while others have so little.



A vote for Obama is a vote against your lifestyle and your
future.  Anybody with a retirement plan who votes for Obama is a
moron.

Oct 19, 2008 9:35 pm

A vote for Obama is a vote against your lifestyle and your future.  Anybody with a retirement plan who votes for Obama is a moron.

 
At least we agree on something. And, you figured out how to avoid turning into a pumpkin at midnight.
 
I see now that you don't have a clue what advisors do for their clients, why they are well paid for their service, advice, experience.
 
Obama wants to increase the Social Security tax threshold - if you're self employed, this could add thousands to your tax bill instantly.
 
But, (we) business owners will figure out ways to reduce our taxes and create wealth.  
 
I believe that the percentage of AUM model is going to disappear in favor of base salaries with bonuses based on profitablity of a cost center will be replacing them.
 
I believe that the broker/dealer/employee model is going to disappear, and self-employed RIAs will rule the advice and service kingdom (along with do-it-yourself channels).
 
But don't take my word for it, just read the recent article here at RR about that topic.
Oct 19, 2008 11:41 pm

Before you get too enamored with RIA model domination, you may want to consider what is going to happen after this rout in the markets... compliance costs and supervision are going to skyrocket. The easy days of becoming an independent RIA are over with. Pass a series 66 and you can offer investment advice for a fee, that's it??? Well, golly, I guess I will do that in my spare time while I am not changing tires at Wal Mart.

 
Qualifications will get stricter, minimum creditentials will become the norm. Financial planning will finally become a real profession much like the medical and legal field.  
Oct 20, 2008 12:42 am

Interesting thought. Want to elaborate on the compliance costs and supervision part of your theory? Sure, experience, and CFP could become minimum credentials.


For consumers, at least with RIA, the ADV and fee arrangement  is, "what you see is what you get".
 
For broker/dealers, there seems to be little way around the pretty heavy fixed costs of an extra layer. And then there is the dubious proposition of managed funds adding real value, at least, where the internal fees of proprietary managed funds are twice what managed no-loads might be - not an issue in itself, but from the advisor and client POV.
 
"Supervision", to me, certainly has to do with things like appropriate portfolio construction, suitability, and so on. But it also has to do with things like churning and disclosure of hidden fees, selling arrangements, and so on. 
 
But do you have any specific ideas about how compliance costs and supervision are going to skyrocket, and do you believe that broker dealers will be able able to compete or offer any competitive advantages going forward?
Oct 20, 2008 8:56 am

my guess is mucho is referring to legal costs associated with all the impending lawsuits and fallout from the inevitable blame game.

Oct 20, 2008 9:33 am

Most of you guys are going to spend a significant portion of your life raising your right and and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

 
The street is littered with parents who sued their children because they lost money.
 
I had an account with the CFO of a Fortune 500 company.   He attempted to trade interest rate futures in the late '70s and lost his ass.
 
He filed a suit claiming that he was not fully informed regarding the risks, and that he had no special knowledge to make it possible for him to succeed.  Remember, he was the CFO--he damn sure knew about interest rate trends, etc.
 
He dropped about $100 grand.  The case was settled by giving him $50 grand rather than run a chance with a "Jackpot Jury."
 
Fortunately those days are all but gone---arbitration is the order of the day these days.  Panels are less inclinded to give the huge awards that were common years ago.
 
Nonetheless a panel can be tough and when you're sitting there saying that you kept the client fully informed and offered the best advice you could, while the client is saying that the only exchanges they had with you were two or three phone calls per year, a birthday card and two hamburgers on the parking lot at your office.................well, the odds are not good.
 
There are people out here whose lives--as in LIVES---are ruined.
 
There are those in society who blame "advisors" who display an amazing arrogance and disregard for the importance of their role.
 
It may be a sin of commission, saying something like, "Hold on, it will come back" simply because you have no idea what else to do-----or because your product line is so limited that there is nowhere to hide.
 
Or it may be a sin of ommission---you're really not very smart and figured that all there was to this "career" was to make 500 phone calls per day and dress in cool clothes.
Oct 20, 2008 9:47 am
My point is that the RIA model is not immune going forward. Think about the incredible costs our regulatory bodies now face for expanding their role in the evolution of the investment advice business given the recent turmoil we have had and the revolting investing public "who got screwed."  Who is going to pay for these increases? We are.
 
The independent RIA model has been relatively unsupervised for years, this will change as a result of this market decline. The independent channel will continue to grow although the "cost" burden will be enormous. This is an opportunity for the independent b/d to expand their profit margin now because they can now leverage the risks relative to being an independent RIA. If you are an independent RIA and face a lawsuit, who has your back?
E&O insurance might cover the monetary settlement but what about the time associated with the preparation for arbitration and other legal expenses?  
 
Consider this:  If you are an independent RIA (with any and/or all credentials), gave investment advice for a fee, have all the proper CYA documentation and all the risks were disclosed and understood, do you think you are immune from litigation? You may win against an arbitration panel but you will still lose money from associated legal costs and time. And many, many advisors just don't want to assume this risk relative to what an independent b/d will charge to supervise. That is why there will always be a b/d, there is power in numbers.  
 
Just my opinion and it is worth exactly what you paid for it... Have a great day.
Oct 20, 2008 10:07 am
Consider this:  If you are an independent RIA (with any and/or all credentials), gave investment advice for a fee, have all the proper CYA documentation and all the risks were disclosed and understood, do you think you are immune from litigation? You may win against an arbitration panel but you will still lose money from associated legal costs and time. And many, many advisors just don't want to assume this risk relative to what an independent b/d will charge to supervise. That is why there will always be a b/d, there is power in numbers.  
 
Good points, I guess we'll find out here whether you're right or whether this is just "wishful thinking". It would be interesting if others would weigh in here. My impression is that with appropriate set-up and due diligence, RIAs should be okay.
 

Nonetheless a panel can be tough and when you're sitting there saying that you kept the client fully informed and offered the best advice you could, while the client is saying that the only exchanges they had with you were two or three phone calls per year, a birthday card and two hamburgers on the parking lot at your office.................well, the odds are not good.
 
There are people out here whose lives--as in LIVES---are ruined.
 
There are those in society who blame "advisors" who display an amazing arrogance and disregard for the importance of their role.
 
Really, old Putz, you might want to consider taking up some volunteer work or doing something constructive to help fill your time.
 

 
Oct 20, 2008 12:35 pm
Mucho de Tejas:
My point is that the RIA model is not immune going forward. Think about the incredible costs our regulatory bodies now face for expanding their role in the evolution of the investment advice business given the recent turmoil we have had and the revolting investing public "who got screwed."  Who is going to pay for these increases? We are.
 
The independent RIA model has been relatively unsupervised for years, this will change as a result of this market decline. The independent channel will continue to grow although the "cost" burden will be enormous. This is an opportunity for the independent b/d to expand their profit margin now because they can now leverage the risks relative to being an independent RIA. If you are an independent RIA and face a lawsuit, who has your back?
E&O insurance might cover the monetary settlement but what about the time associated with the preparation for arbitration and other legal expenses?  
 
Consider this:  If you are an independent RIA (with any and/or all credentials), gave investment advice for a fee, have all the proper CYA documentation and all the risks were disclosed and understood, do you think you are immune from litigation? You may win against an arbitration panel but you will still lose money from associated legal costs and time. And many, many advisors just don't want to assume this risk relative to what an independent b/d will charge to supervise. That is why there will always be a b/d, there is power in numbers.  
 
Just my opinion and it is worth exactly what you paid for it... Have a great day.
 
No one is immune from risk of litigation or regulatory liability, Tejas, whether they are an RIA or a RR at a b/d.  I also agree that "many, many advisors just don't want to assume this risk relative to what an independent b/d will charge to supervise." 
 
But that simply is a reflection of the different risk & reward trade offs between the captive and independent channels.   Just like with our clients, neither risk nor reward exist in isolation of the other.  Not every investor should be 100% invested in equities, and not every advisor should be independent.  Those who are more risk averse and value security as a priority rather than greater opportunity should certainly stick to an environment that gives them the security they value.  For those who want supervision, they are plenty of b/ds who are willing to supervise you and charge you for that 'service.' 
 
Supervising ourselves often seems scarier, harder and more time consuming in theory than it is in reality.  But don't expect your b/d to tell you that, or all those industry magazines that you receive for free which generate their revenue overwhelmingly from these same b/ds through their advertising.  Consider the source of the information you receive, and weigh it accordingly.  That's why I repeatedly say that anyone seriously wanting to truly understand independent options must be willing to do some work on their own, as it will not come to you in your inbox at work or your mailbox at home.
 
It's perfectly fine with me that most people choose this safer route, intentionally or by default.  Those of us who choose independence don't deny that the path involves risk and hard work, it simply means that for us the expected rewards outweigh the risks, and that the risk is a worthwhile price to pay for the reward we seek.
 
Oct 20, 2008 1:40 pm

Morph,

 
I have been following the "going indy" threads that you have participated in with much interest. No one channel is best for no one advisor (same goes for b/ds), all have different value propositions. It is a personal decision to choose the appropriate path.
 
Although I believe the independent RIA model will thrive eventually, this may be a set back as it has avoided mass litigation and intense regulation/scrutiny until now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out because I just have to believe there were way too many unqualified indy RIA's playing in the kiddie pool. And now the pool has to be cleansed because one of them crapped in it. (Spalding Smails: Doodie!)

"It's easy to grin, when you ship comes in..."
 
Oct 20, 2008 1:40 pm
Morphius:
......Supervising ourselves often seems scarier, harder and more time consuming in theory than it is in reality. 
 
I don't think the point is how scary or hard it is, the question is how long will the obvious conflict of interest in self-supervision be allowed to continue by regulators, and will the current market highlight that obvious conflict of interest to the point that it will no longer be ignored..
Oct 20, 2008 2:18 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Morphius, well put about risk and reward, I think that's what most who investigate will find, that it's a trade-off.

Oct 21, 2008 1:11 pm
greyhairedbrker:
Morphius:
......Supervising ourselves often seems scarier, harder and more time consuming in theory than it is in reality. 
 
I don't think the point is how scary or hard it is, the question is how long will the obvious conflict of interest in self-supervision be allowed to continue by regulators, and will the current market highlight that obvious conflict of interest to the point that it will no longer be ignored..
Interesting perspective.  A couple of quick points.
 
First, we are all our own front line "supervisor" regardless of
where we work.  We are each personally responsible for knowing and
complying with all applicable regs, whether we are RRs or IARs.  It may
be helpful or comforting to have a BOM or compliance person watching
over your shoulder to provide additional supervision, but we are all
still individually on the line for our actions and compliance with
applicable regs.  This is what I meant when I said "supervising ourselves" in my response to Tejas.  

Second, you obviously don't have any first hand experience if you
think RIAs are self-supervised.  On the contrary, they are regulated by
the SEC (or the state).  And unlike FINRA, the SEC is not a SRO (Self Regulatory Organization).  FINRA is.  If your beef is with self regulation, your beef is with FINRA, B/Ds, and RRs, not the SEC, RIAs and IARs.

Oct 21, 2008 1:30 pm

MOrph, it's my impression that the attorney who you hire for setup can perform and annual office inspection/compliance review - this would be above and beyond what is required.

Oct 21, 2008 1:40 pm
Mucho de Tejas:

Although I believe the independent RIA model will thrive eventually, this may be a set back as it has avoided mass litigation and intense regulation/scrutiny until now.


Until now?  Did this avoidance of mass litigation just recently change, or are you anticipating this might change?  I don't follow your point, my friend. 

Mucho de Tejas:

It will be interesting to see how it plays out because I just have to believe there were way too many unqualified indy RIA's playing in the kiddie pool.


I won't necessarily argue that point, other than to say there are too many unqualified advisors EVERYWHERE - indy RIA or wirehouse, or anywhere in between.  Don't think even the top wirehouses are immune to this, with their continued reliance on hiring and hiring to play the numbers game.  They can't afford to be too selective.  Just read this forum for a while and that becomes obvious.  The barriers to entry in this business are too low.  Fortunately this is at least partly offset by the fact that the barriers to survival and success remain very high.

Mucho de Tejas:

And now the pool has to be cleansed because one of them crapped in it. 


Again, I'm not sure I follow you.  Was there one or more recent big stories about incompetent RIAs crapping in their pools, to use your terms, or is this again something you are simply expecting to see happen sometime in the future?