The Wire

June 2, 2016

How to Prep a Financial-Advice Business for Sale

As more baby boomer financial advisers contemplate the sale of their practices, there are steps they can take to potentially increase the businesses' value and command a higher price.

Some value-boosting techniques, such as changing their compensation system, may take longer than say, cutting costs. So advisers should ideally focus on making selected changes a few years before they actually expect to sell. Read More

May 10, 2016

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Financial-Advisory Practice

Even advisers with decades of experience buying and selling investments for clients may have no experience selling a financial advisory practice.

That can be an issue for these veteran advisers when they are ready to sell a business they built or perhaps transition to retirement by combining it with another firm. Some make rookie mistakes during negotiations which can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars—or even a deal. Read More


January 19, 2016

Parlaying Cloak-and-Dagger Skills into 'Pure Financial Independence'

In 2008, David Hou and Mark Sear famously synchronized their watches to pull off their precise breakaway from Merrill Lynch Private Investment Group in Los Angeles to create Luminous Capital. See: Merrill Lynch stars take a leap of faith to a new office — and independence.

But all good jailbreaks need a getaway driver. In the case of Luminous, Hou and Sear tapped Matt Sonnen. He’d left Merrill Lynch in 2005 to try his hand at selling insurance. Turned out insurance wasn’t for him, so Sonnen was receptive when Hou asked if he could oversee the formation of the new firm outside the confines of Merrill Lynch. See: Hou-Sear team can’t always beat RIAs so it joins them.

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December 6, 2015

The cost of independence

Christopher Bray founded Ariel Capital Advisors nearly two years ago, naming the Florida-based advisory firm after his 4-year-old daughter. Now he is being sued by Ariel Investments, a $10 billion Chicago-based mutual fund company, for allegedly infringing on its trademark.

Mr. Bray, whose firm has about $225 million in assets under management, doesn't want to change his company's name and is fighting the fund company in court. But that is coming at a cost, both in legal expenses and time that could be better spent growing his young business.

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November 16, 2015

Walt Bettinger Unbites His Lip and Ignites an IMPACT

For four merry days in November, no robo-advisor disrupted the CEO of The Charles Schwab Corp.

Walt Bettinger commanded the stage at Schwab IMPACT’s opening session last week, declaring to a largely adoring crowd that reports of his company’s demise as an innovator at the hands of a pitchfork-wielding competitors or ever-wily wirehouses were off base.

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November 10, 2015

Lack of Succession Plan Hurts RIAs Long-Term

RIAs are too focused on operating a practice rather than building a sustainable business, according to a white paper from the Alliance for Registered Investment Advisors released at the Schwab IMPACT Conference in Boston on Wednesday.

John Furey, the paper's author and a founding member of aRIA, said not having a succession plan can damage the firm by causing employees to leave and preventing them from attracting next-gen talent.

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