PFI Advisors has not been around long enough for me to start giving entrepreneurial advice, but the entrepreneurial conversation does come up quite often in our day-to-day discussions with breakaway advisors thinking of starting their own RIA.  As we have written in the past (see: Top 3 Questions Every Breakaway Advisor Asks), there are many ways to go independent, from joining an existing RIA to partnering with an aggregator or a platform provider, to starting an RIA from scratch.  Whether or not these options across the independence spectrum appeal to an advisor comes down to their entrepreneurial spirit and the answer to the very important question: “How much control/ownership do you want, and how hard are you willing to work to earn that control?”

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, nor is there a definitively right or wrong way to transition your business into the realm of independent investment advisors.  Having worked inside a large wirehouse and having worked for a fee-only RIA, I truly believe clients are better served in the purely independent space.  Once an advisor has come to that conclusion, and however they bring their clients along, I think he/she is making the right choice.  Regardless of which channel an advisor chooses to go independent, clients will benefit, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

In the book High Performance Habits, author Brendon Burchard states, “The main motivation of humankind is to be free, to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction.”  For some, “pursuing their dream without restriction” means they don’t want to have to pick a custodian, or determine what phone system to use, or design a logo… For others, they never feel free and purely independent until they are standing in their own office, designing their firm’s organizational chart and filling out administrative payroll forms.  The pride they feel in owning their own firm and fully controlling their own destiny far outweighs the hassles of juggling the administrative burdens of running their own business while at the same time servicing clients and prospecting for more.

In a recent interview with Mindy Diamond, Shirl Penney of Dynasty Financial referred to those advisors who take the road less traveled and start RIAs on their own as “rugged individualists.” Here at PFI Advisors, we dedicate ourselves to these “rugged individualists.” These are the individuals who are willing to make the sacrifices and face the challenges associated with entrepreneurship in order to feel the pride and freedom of fully owning their own business.  In the aforementioned book, “High Performance Habits,” Brendon Burchard states, “the journey to greatness begins the moment our preferences for comfort and certainty are overruled by a greater purpose that requires challenge and contribution.”

And as the famous 1997 Apple commercial celebrated:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

There are no right or wrong ways to go independent.  And the RIA industry has grown to a point that there are multiple solutions available to advisors for each of these channels.  Maybe joining an existing firm appeals to you, or affiliating with another organization (whether that be a strategic investor or a plug-and-play platform provider) is your preference.  PFI Advisors has carved out a niche for the “rugged individualists,” the dreamers, and the misfits.  If we can help you express your true, purely independent self and pursue your dream without restriction, please give us a call.


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