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  • Writer's pictureRichard DeSalvo

Career Crossroads

What Type of Entrepreneur are You?


At some point in your career, the time arrives to look at other firms for your wealth management business. As you begin this task, you realize there is a never-ending number of people with their own story to tell and dream to sell that wish to take you to innumerable lunches and dinners. The wealth management firms have very different ways of conducting business and they generally fall into three archetypes:

1) Mega Firms – These include large investment banks, custodial firms, global banks, and regional banks. They provide brand recognition, office space, training, and a one-stop shop for all your investment and back-office needs. You will need to follow the rules provided and will be guided by the home office’s vision, priorities, and compensation model. This is where loyalty and longevity matters. In fact, it’s just as a much a career choice as it is a firm choice.

2) Independent-like Firms – Also known as hybrid firms, they offer access into their business model under their regulatory compliance (SEC and/or FINRA) and platform rules. They dictate platform pricing, offer proprietary or “preferred” product suites, set compliance rules, and guide overall business modeling. What makes them more independent is that you can form your own entity (DBA) and be your own firm or boss. This means you can hire, fire, find your own real estate, etc. Thus, what you gain in autonomy, you may lose under daily operational, technology, regulatory, or product needs.


Tangential to this are firms that will buy a percentage (usually 20%) of your business as a condition upon joining. This gives them assurance of your tenure and shows a commitment to each other, while providing you upfront money in your transition.


3) Total Independence – This option is for the person that chooses to be a true business owner, challenge themselves, and possibly recruit other advisors. Most people that pursue this career path have been advisors or in similar roles for at least a decade and have experienced success in the wealth management space. He or she would create their own RIA and perhaps even acquire their own broker-dealer if large enough in client base, product type, and AUM. The long-term goal is to build a business that provides maximum control and maximum book value to sell or monetize.

By exploring the different aspects of these business models, it is easier to determine which appeals to you most. There is no “wrong” choice, only choices that may not match your true ambition and vision.

Rather than making a quick decision, it is important to consider further. To determine what type of “entrepreneur” you really are, there are some important questions to ask:

  • Do you more often follow or lead?

  • Do you get frustrated with executive leadership?

  • Do you lack control?

  • Is your voice not being heard?

Too often I see quality professionals choosing total independence in search of a solution to corporate bureaucracy, only to become the accidental CEO. The focus becomes regulatory risk, compliance, and operational tasks. The joy of prospecting and selling is gone and only a small amount of time for closing new business and client service remains.

On the contrary, I also see advisors that have strong, entrepreneurial traits “sold” on the idea that his or her voice matters in the “mega” or “independent-like” firms and that they can be a part of something special there. The truth is, they often become a de facto employee, playing by someone else’s rules and their way of doing business.

A decision like this takes time and the factors influencing it evolve. You will meet many talented salespersons and quality firms in this pursuit. However, just because you meet a nice person or find a great firm, that does not mean they are the best fit for you. Once you truly understand yourself, you can choose a career path that best suits you.

This is not about what type of entrepreneur you should be, this is about what type of entrepreneur you are.

Find your inner business-self and go aggressively in that direction.

Your personal and professional happiness depends on it.

Rich DeSalvo, COO

F3Logic, LLC

Where Fiduciary Freedom is First

Advisory services are offered through F3Logic, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Independent Financial Group, LLC, a registered broker dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC. IFG is not affiliated with any of the entities listed. Additional advisory services may be offered by the respective entities listed as permissible by state law.


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