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RIA guys, how did you get your start?

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Mar 10, 2016 12:55 am

I've worked a back office role for a regional wealth mgt firm and am looking to move into a producing role (I'm in my mid 20's, fully registered).  The firm I currently work for has a very difficult training program, and the advisors have to cover any expense of a junior advisor salary.  In other words, if you aren't related, the odds of joining a team are slim to none. So, I'm trying to see what else is available. 

I'm curious how you got started and offered a junior position at a small firm, whether through family/personal relationships or just cold calling/emailing for junior associate positions?  How long have you been in the business?  What were your income levels for the first few years while getting your book of business ramped up?

I'm in the process of taking the next big step into production and trying to decide between the wirehouse route or pursuing smaller firms.  I don't have any family/personal connections to anyone in the business, and my natural market is almost none existent. I've heard about the failure rates of wirehouse programs, and with my lack of a wealthy natural market I'm hesitant to hop into these programs that have quick ramping expectations for production and assets.  I've heard that the smaller firm/RIA route is the way to go to get hands on guidance and mentorship from an established advisor, while also having the best chance for success. Any advice is appreciated.

May 3, 2016 7:15 pm

I went independent after moving some 600 miles for family reasons. I started a new role at a new firm and wasn’t happy with “starting” over. I plug away in a FA role at a small bank until I got 10 mm in assets and I was gone. Found another independent that had office space with the Broker dealer I was going to and worked out a deal where I didn’t pay rent for the first year as a “try out”. If we still like each other we would work on a buy out. I ended up buying her book after 2 years. I have been in the industry over 15 years. the first year was tight about about 80K (netted about 60 after all the over head). Second year was double and now I’m well over 6 figures.

There is a lot of opportunities out there to buy books or get into “succession” plans. You need to find reps that are “older” that don’t have children. Trust me when I tell you, they want someone they can trust far more than a big “payday” from a buyout. So Independents are looking just to take a check and walk.

It is a lot of hard work and detetive skills to start. First find the Broker Dealer you want to clear through. Then search on Broker Check all the reps that have that BD in your area. Automatically discount the people that have the same addresses (they will be partners that already have “what if plans”). Next look to see how long they have been in the industry, you want longer than 20 years if possible. Lastly look for website or emails. Send them an email and tell them that you are looking to go independent with their BD and see if they would be interested in letting you buy them a cup of coffee to hear about their experience. Once that is set up, it is up to you to see if you can work out a deal. Hope this helps!

Jun 6, 2016 10:20 pm

Just responding to the prior posts, Quest Capital ( is truly a broker-centric independent BD and SEC-registered RIA with reps throughout the country. We clear through RBC and have developed one of the most comprehensive offerings for RRs and IA’s in the industry. I would welcome the opportunity to provide more information regarding our firm.
Joe Nikolson, CEO
Quest Capital

Nov 9, 2016 6:20 pm

Quest- If I only have series 65- not 7- is this suitable?