Advisors who take their role as fiduciaries seriously are well-positioned to compete against Wall Street. The wirehouses and regional brokerage firms have a terrible reputation for selling instead of advising.It’s pretty easy to use the long history of sales fraud and conflicts of interest to criticize Wall Street. But just how far should advisors go?
My suggestion is that you explain how you are different in your marketing materials but be careful not to go overboard.
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Yesterday, in writing a quarterly performance update for advisors to use with clients and prospects, I referred to “Wall Street’s sales machine.” Economist Fritz Meyer, who is collaborating with me on creating the content suggested I not use that term but just refer to “talking heads on TV.”
Normally, I go with Fritz’s suggestions because he’s brilliant. But in this case I stuck with referring to Wall Street’s sales machine. Why? Because many, if not most, investors don’t know the difference between and independent advisor and a Wall Street broker. They may know you’re different but not really understand exactly why.
RIAs should draw a clear line publicly between how they operate to serve clients versus the sales forces at brokerages. But you don’t want to go too far.
You want to describe the differences between your firm and theirs without attacking Wall Street. You need to be mindful that not all brokers are corrupt and respectful of the relationships that potential clients might have with the advisors at the brokerage firms. You want to state facts about the deficiencies of the Wall Street system but not attack the people who work there.
Don’t say bad things about your competitors. Nobody likes that and it makes you look bad. But do say how you are different and be specific.