Going solo – sans big firm – can be daunting for any financial planner. But still so many continue to dream. One advisor who overcame that fear now wants to help guide others through it
Knowing when to walk away and having the courage to do so don’t necessarily happen in tandem.
Financial advisor John Lindsey
knows first-hand the hesitation and fear that fester when an advisor even contemplates going solo.
But, Lindsey hasn’t looked back – at least not in regret – since he did two years ago.
Now very much an independent, the advisor once a major player with a large international firm has launched a website – The Bold Advisor– offering encouragement and support to others, like him, who yearn to do the same.
“I’m trying to be a voice for those who want to go independent and are afraid,” he says. “Or, who wanted to go independent and were being bullied by their current broker dealer or (are dealing with the) threat of being bullied by their current broker dealer.”
Lindsey’s road to independence was by no means a smooth one – there was a lawsuit (which he won), tens of thousands of dollars poured into legal fees and one of the greatest tests endured on his moral character. With a high-profile reputation and solid book of business, Lindsey says he cut back his clients, fighting hard for those he wanted to keep. He combatted accusations (which included stealing ‘corporate secrets’) that had the potential to soil his career. And, he guarded his jealously protected the composure necessary to come through to the other side.
BREAK ON THROUGH
So, how did Lindsey make it through?
“I had an incredible spouse. I had an incredibly supportive family. I had an incredibly supportive staff,” he says. “Luckily, I had the financial wherewithal to be able to withstand it.”
One thing Lindsey stresses is that his decision to leave his firm was not driven by money. Instead, after more than 15 years with his former firm, Lindsey says he was disgruntled by the corporate culture, the investment philosophy and how he was expected to service his clients. He was also dissatisfied with the proposed succession plan, which, according to Lindsey, would have handed over the bulk of his clients to unknown advisors despite the years he spent developing these relationships.
Once he committed himself to making the move, Lindsey searched thoroughly (two years in total) for his next firm. He interviewed with five different companies, visited corporate headquarters and analyzed which teams aligned best with his moral and business values.
“I did a tremendous amount of due diligence. I flew to different cities,” he says. “I had offers from all five (companies), but I took the one that wasn’t necessarily the largest. I took the one that gave me the most freedom, the most integrity with my clients, and the most ability to do what is right for the clients. I didn’t want to be owned in an indentured-servitude type of manner.”
TO THE OTHER SIDE
And, so with 160 household clients - down from 500, most of whom were “garage” clients he left with the firm – Lindsey started doing business his own way. He settled on a new firm and launched Lindsey and Lindsey Wealth Management, Inc. in 2012.
“I cleaned up my book because there were a lot of assets on the book that weren’t profitable and had been collected over the course of time,” he said. “I got almost 70 per cent of my book, which is unusual…” He now offers clients a diverse range of products – including real estate, annuities and other investment options that weren’t on his former firm’s grid – with better money management and risk assessment options and a more-efficient compliance department, he says.
“My time is my own. I’m not being asked to volunteer all the time and have no compensation for it,” he says. “I’m able to offer my clients a much broader spectrum of investments. It’s the difference between chicken salad and chicken parmigiana.”
Not only are the products notches above those he used to select from, but Lindsey says the technology he uses is far superior as well. Everything is web-based, so much so, that he can access client portfolios and complete trades via his mobile phone. When he attends a national conference, he wears a badge with an electronic chip that automatically allocates him CFP credits when he attends certain seminars.
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