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Anyone made the leap from bank brokerage to RIA?

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Jan 15, 2009 5:47 pm

I have 10+ yrs experience, CFP, series 7, 63, 65, and a clean u-4.  I am in my 12th year in my current role as an FA for the trust department of a regional bank. 

  I partnered up with an established vet years ago, and led the charge on transitioning his book to fee-based, which has since grown to $38mm after absorbing 2008 .  I pretty much took on the role of doing anything he wasn't interested in, such as the fee-based (although we both now fully focus that way), LTC/Life insurance, financial planning software, 529s, Small biz retirement plans, etc.  Gradually, the bank has eliminated the management positions of anyone who came from our traditional side, and it seems apparent that we will soon be attached to the Retail side, where everything is transactionally driven.  We get very little info anymore on products that would interest my clients, it's nowadays mostly just new riders on fixed/variable annuities.  So I am exploring free agency.   I have been a 400-500m producer, and I could probably sleepwalk through the next few years just maintaining my client relationships and make more than I need.  Feels like I am already doing that though, and I don't like it. I definitely don't want to have this feeling when I am 50.  I suspect my fiftysomething partner is experiencing this.  On the other hand, if I leave and fail, I am probably looking at an entire career change.  I have a young family, and enough money to make it through a year or so.   2009 will be a rebuilding process year for anyone, whether we stay or or move on.  I am perfectly willing to do that, but in order to meet my arbitrarily set performance goals, we basically have to double our book of fee-based business (or churn out fixed annuities...).  If I am going to work that hard, I want it to be on my own terms.   My question is, would my experience be attractive to any of you who are RIAs? Are there opportunities out there with an RIA who needs to branch out into areas not serviced before, such as the LTC, or small business retirement planning area?    Obviously, the assets I could bring over would be of major interest, and many will say that's all that matters, but that is where I struggle.  I live in an area that was named one of the fastest growing townships in the state and I drive 45 min to a quickly dying city every day.  I would like to focus on my hometown area where I have more of a network and there is more opportunity in general, but many of my clients may resist.  As close as the two are, my home is in a suburb of a larger city that is not really associated with my "work city".    FWIW, my expertise in various financial planning software packages should be useful.  I can also field dress a computer/networks/printers etc., which I am occasionally asked to do here at the bank simply because they know I can.  This doesn't bring home the bacon, but it has helped out in a pinch many times in my current office.   Sorry for the long post, it's collection of things that have occurred to me staring at the ceiling at 3am.  Thanks for all input!  
Jan 15, 2009 11:32 pm

Having re-read this a few hours later, it reads as more of a job application, but that was not my intent. I am really looking for some feedback from those who would be in a position to hire another broker as part of a growing practice.  To those I ask, do I have the resume of someone you might consider, or do I need to adjust my focus?

Jan 16, 2009 10:33 pm

Here’s the way I see it -

I’m a partner in a 5 principal firm. We have other employees, and one other non-owner advisor in our firm. The type of RIA that would have an interest in you would be one that values you more as a team member than a producing entity that is there to share expenses. We had a few people contact our firm asking if we’d be willing to take them on, and after meeting with them, they looked like they just wanted a place to hang their shingle, rather than working as a part of a team.

That being the case, there are practices that exist as ‘expense sharing arrangements’ among producing advisors. As you had said, however, you recognize that there may be a niche in the area of insurance, and there are many practices that are looking for that type of individual. You have to be willing to paint a picture about how you can fit in, rather than just stomping in the door, and saying ‘I can help defray expenses’ - that type of thing wouldn’t work with us.

Credentials are good things - but, in the hands of someone unwilling or unable to put their education to work, they are useless.

Sounds like you could be a good team member… just my take based on the information you had posted.


Mar 18, 2009 9:36 am

Don’t know how far you got, but considering opening you own firm.  It really is not that hard, yes complicated but not hard.  It sounds like you want to grow, so it should be a good for you long term.  This obviously requires a long conversation, if you wish give me a call.


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609-945-7100 x 101 - The Breakaway Experts

Mar 18, 2009 12:58 pm

It sounds like you have the asset base and clients to make it work.  I am also feeling that you are fearful of making the leap.  You definitely would be attractive to another firm.  Have you considered other options?  You are looking at the RIA model, yet you have products like 529's that fit into a commission model.  What about going the independent route with a hybrid model that allows you to capture fee based business and commission business?  You also have enough production to possibly do it on your own and eventually build your own team.  There may be some advisors on this board that would be very interested in partnering with you.  Where are you located?