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Mindy Diamond on Independence: An Inside Move from IBD to RIA

A conversation with Andy Harris, President and Wealth Manager of Evergreen Wealth Solutions, on becoming “more independent” at Commonwealth.


It’s funny how many financial advisors’ journeys start somewhere outside of the wealth management world.

For Andy Harris, the field he was headed for was environmental studies. That is, until a temp job with Nationwide turned into a full-time gig, changing his mindset and career path.

While he may have gotten his start in the financial world at Nationwide, it was an interview with a friend and independent advisor in 2002 at Locust Street Securities (which would later become ING Financial Partners) that led him to the role of financial advisor.

Along the way, Andy learned plenty of the up and down realities of the wealth management world, building a book of business that he would later move to Commonwealth in 2015 as an independent broker dealer.

Yet the desire for greater independence led Andy and his team to transition to Commonwealth’s RIA platform in 2019.

Andy’s internal transition is representative of the “RIA-ification” of the broker dealer world. That is, firms are working to meet the evolving needs of advisors and their growing practices by offering multiple ways to affiliate and a “glide path” to greater independence without leaving the firm.

Today, Andy and his team at Evergreen Wealth Solutions in Williamsport, PA, are consistently ranked as one of the top affiliates of Commonwealth Financial Network.

Andy’s story is an interesting one that shares the evolution of one’s business life, building upon the vision and goals along the way. In this episode, he talks about that journey with Louis Diamond, including:

  • The early development of his business—and why Andy selected Commonwealth to launch his independent practice.
  • The choice to launch first as an independent broker dealer—and why he later opted to slide over to Commonwealth’s RIA platform.
  • The thought process behind transitioning from IBD to RIA—and how that benefits clients service and his business overall.
  • The process of transitioning models within the firm—and what advisors need to be aware of based on his experience.

Plus, Andy provides key learnings for advisors considering both the IBD and RIA models, along with some sound advice: “When considering change, think about where you want to be not just for today, but for the next 5 to 10 years and beyond.”

Listen to more episodes of Mindy Diamond on Independence: A Podcast for Financial Advisors Considering Change.

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