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Wirehouse Vs Indy/RIA

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May 2, 2010 10:43 pm

Hi there,

Not trying to find out which one is better but trying to figure how they are regarded by investors...

Does an advisor cold calling by saying <.......Mark Smith speaking, from big wirehouse brand name...> has a better chance of sparking interests than an advisor saying <....Mark Smith speaking, from XYZ Capital...>?

I would assume that the average investor would feel more confident dealing with a world renowned institution, due to their larger infrastructure, reputation, years in the industry, etc... 

If so, how can an Indy/RIA differentiate himself and in other terms compete with the wirehouses?

I know it can be done and has widely been done, but how?

What value can we add to investors that a wirehouse couldn't?


May 3, 2010 12:56 am

They don't buy the wirehouse, they buy you.

With that said, as a newbie, you probably want and need a big name behind you. If for no other reason, because it will give YOU a little more confidence. Although these days depending on who you are talking about, sometimes the big name is a negative.

The good Indies offer everthing the wires do. The wires brainwash their brokers into thinking differently. I went indie and i can provide everything from Money Managers to Comprehensive Financial Plans to Trust Services.

But to go indie as a newbie makes no sense. Keep your head down, build a book, and do it in 5-10 years, when you have a reputation and loyal clients. Then it will be easy.

May 3, 2010 2:49 am

Bob--You went from Smith Barney to Raymond James Financial??  Perhaps one of the reasons you did that is for the name recognition.  I think name recognition is somewhat important.

May 3, 2010 3:37 am


Name recognition is not the reason i chose RJ. They are not a household name in the Northeast and i would estimate that about 40-50% of my clients had not heard of them until i brought it up.

I chose them because they were the closest to what i had at SB, in terms of platforms, research capabilities, etc and i felt it would make for an easier transition and make it easier to continue working for my clients the same way i had at SB.

But back on point, most of my clients actually said to me "my relationship is with you, not with your firm. As long as i was able to show them that there money was safe at RJ, i had no issues, and brought over pretty much all of my clients. Literally about 98%.

Its all relationships, not names.

May 3, 2010 5:40 am

Yeah, I agree on the "you". The number of clients I have gotten have ran the gambit, alot of local indies, so it doesn't matter. I think I had one doctor say if I was an indie - which I am not. 

If anything I would say, "Merrill and Morgan Stanley went down, but our conservative firm stayed the course".

May 3, 2010 3:56 pm

Thanks for the responses guys...

May 6, 2010 6:39 am

Working for a big firm has the benefit of coming with a strong brand name (at least before all the industry turmoil started in 2008.)

When advisors go independent, they have the potential to have higher payouts and become more profitable. Successful independent advisors reinvest some of those profits into their practice’s brand to become more dominant in a local region and/or a specific niche.

If you would like to read more about branding best practices, read this link:

Mike Byrnes, President
Byrnes Consulting, LLC
Twitter: ByrnesConsultin