I guess you could say I'm a contrarian because while some days I think it's great being independent and making the kind of money I make, some days I hate it and some days I'm not even sure I'd want my kids to go into the business.
I even did my financial career path in reverse. First, I was with FSC, an independent broker/dealer in London, for nine years. Then I went with Shearson Lehman Brothers for about two years in London, then a year with them in New York.
Next I went to work for a big national bank in their private banking group.
I spent two years there and then the lure of the big payouts independent financial planners could get from their broker/dealers drew me. I went independent, started my company in Denver and started cold calling. I love to cold call. I'd rather network and cold call than anything.
Of course those big payouts become smaller when you figure out the real costs. When you go independent, you get all the money and you control things. But all of a sudden it's going to take, as a wild guess, 30 percent of your productive time to run the damn company. In other words, you have to put on another hat. You have to take 30 percent of your time to learn to be an office manager.
Leave a wirehouse and you're no longer a sales person, an investment advisor and a money manager. You're all of those and now you're a business manager, too. You have to hire, fire, incorporate, you have to do all of that. You have to manage all your business affairs. You have to set up corporate accounts, order stationery, get phones, fax machines, furniture, which you have to decide whether to buy or lease, negotiate leases. And you'd better hire a bookkeeper. Don't kid yourself. The first thing you've got to do is hire a bookkeeper to come in and check everything you do every 90 days.
So you're incurring extraordinary expenses you'd never incur inside a wirehouse. It drains you, it distracts you, it's not what we're paid to do. Another bad thing is the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You don't have anybody to share your victories or defeats with.
When you start hiring people, you get new problems. You get people in your shop with drug problems, personal problems, they're going through divorces, I don't want to make it sound too bad, but it can be a pain in the you-know-where.
On the other hand, I own my book. And if I want to sell it one day, it becomes a retirement vehicle for me. If my annual gross is $1.5 million and it's all in fee-based business, I can sell that for two times my annual earnings.
And yes, I do have over $150 million under management, all of it gathered in the eight years since I started from a dead stop. I've got 14 employees now, too. My overhead's $40,000 a month easy. When I started, I was scared to death. I watched every move I made.
How'd I get successful? It's something I learned when I was at Shearson Lehman. A terrific man there taught me to chase lump-sum distributions at corporations. The lesson was, and it still is, find a market and focus on it. Find one market, one niche, whether it's the community you live in, doctors, whatever, and kick butt going after it.
My market is mid-level corporate people who can hand me a half million, a million bucks and that's where I'm best. Do I want to compete for $5 million accounts? No, because then I'm up against Goldman Sachs and those babies.
It can take two or three years to develop the market you're going after. You need the patience to give it the development time. I got on the phone and started calling people. I targeted a couple of major corporations in the Denver area, got their corporate directories and started calling people and inviting them to seminars. I set up the seminars, ran them, brought the people in, identified the people who were close to retirement and made love to them. When they left, they gave me the rollover.
Another thing I do is spend about $15,000 a month in direct mail, telemarketing, referred leads, high prospecting.
I still don't mind working 50 to 60 hours a week.
The Firm: Capital Investment Management,Denver Principal: Christopher Pelley B/D Affiliation: Secrurities Service Network Year of Independence: 1992 Assets Under Management: $150 million I guess you could say I'm a contrarian because while some days I think it's great being independent and making the kind of money I make, some days I hate it and some days I'm not even sure I'd want my kids to go into