Some people say there will never be a perfect time to go independent, because there always will be challenges. But when a financial advisor is considering going independent, a consultant such as TruClarity Management Solutions can help the advisor not only through the decision-making process but also to form a realistic and efficient timeline.
“Many of our clients are breaking away from the wirehouse industry. They have established a relationship with a custodial rep and made the decision to go independent,” says Pam Stross, president of TruClarity Management Solutions. “Knowing when to take the first step toward independence can be the most difficult part. Getting us involved as soon as possible after making the decision can be key. Often, teams may try to move down that road by themselves, and it is easy to get overwhelmed.”
Establishing a pro-forma, start-up budget and timeline are among the first tasks that TruClarity tackles for a new client. Among the most time-consuming parts of creating an independent RIA are finding appropriate office space and creating the branding and marketing. TruClarity acts as the project manager, Stross says. “We are all about keeping on track and on time. We meet weekly with the financial advisors to keep them focused.”
Efficiency is vital during the process, so TruClarity coordinates calls that include the custodians and as many of the team members as possible. “We once worked with a team that was scheduling as many as five calls a week until they got us involved,” Stross says. “They told us they just did not know there was a resource, like TruClarity, available to coordinate these things for them. We hear that all the time.”
Stross notes that the availability of local real estate can be the biggest determiner of the timeline. TruClarity scouts locations, negotiates leases and works with contractors on renovations -- all while ensuring confidentiality. “It only takes one person to notice you looking at empty office space in your community to raise suspicions.”
Getting everything completed and in the right order is key because so many tasks are dependent on others. For instance, branding – the name, logo, etc. – must be established before lawyers can file regulatory paperwork or even the documents to create a new business entity. “It is a well-choreographed dance,” Stross says.
The necessary paperwork can be onerous, so TruClarity acts as a liaison with legal counsel, custodian and friendly broker dealer. The goal is to let TruClarity do as much of that heavy lifting as possible.
In the meantime, decisions such as choosing technology systems and software can be as confusing as it is time-consuming. “Technology is a huge consideration, because you need to determine which platforms will work best with your custodian’s platform, and which would be best not only for your current needs but for the future,” says Christine Fiorillo, director of operations at TruClarity Management Solutions. “Teams could sit through multiple rounds of demonstrations before they decide what best fits their business model. It is important for as many team members as possible to sit in, because people in different roles will look at them in different ways. Through our in-depth discovery process, we determine a customized platform solution, thereby reducing the time an advisor spends building the technology deck.”
Stross adds, “Sometimes, financial advisors do not even realize the number of options available to them, because at a big wirehouse, you come in and sit down and use whatever is in front of you. This is a whole new world with lots of choices.”
Kathleen Miller, director of marketing and communications at TruClarity Management Solutions, says TruClarity is committed to helping clients identify the best options for them and their new business. “Our approach is different than our competitors. We are very customized and offer hands-on service. Because we are not as large as other companies, we do not just push people through a process. We guide them to find the best solutions for their circumstances and goals.”