Indy Conference: Herding Cats

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babbling looney's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

Just got back from a mandatory group conference that covered compliance and had some vendor and IT presentations. Usually compliance has been done by my OSJ at the annual office inspection.  I thought it would be fun to meet more of the other Indys in my general area.... and it was.  What was more interesting to me, and explains why I really love being Indy is the general attitude of the group and the comparison to the group think that was prevalent at Jones and other "firms".  Each of us has a business that we run according to our own needs and demographics.  Some people are more securites, others more insurance, some are tax and estate planning oriented and others are strictly RIA business models.  Like herding cats, it is literally impossible for the meeting organizers to get us all to think in the same direction. 
At a "firm" the meetings are all about rah rah rah, the company, with the company talking head telling everyone what they should be thinking, how to run their offices and what their daily business should be.  If you didn't buy the company mantra, you didn't fit in with the rest of the robo brokers.  At the indy conference, no one gives a sh*t what you think or if you run your business in a different way.  The best part is that we can all learn from each other and take the information that is valuable for our business styles and ignore the rest.
Yes, I love being an Indy and this just reinforced why. Even in school I was never a team player.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Babbling- Weren't you the one that complained about the lack of a team atmosphere at Jones? Now you are singing a different tune..... Maybe it is all about you.

babbling looney's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

I've remarked on many things about Jones, but a lack of team atmosphere was never one of them.  The poor training given to new IRs, the lack of technology, the limited product selection, the indoctrination and cult atmosphere at the regional meetings, the paternalism and good old boy network, the cookie cutter approach to meeting clients financial needs, may all be things I have remarked on or could discuss about Jones, but never, ever was I concerned about "team" atmosphere.  Complianing is whining where you (not you personally...maybe) don't do anything to solve the problem.  I solved the problem for me, by becoming an independent. So I don't care what Jones does now. It isn't my problem any more.  I do feel sorry for the good people who have been embroiled in the Jones culture.  But again: not my problem.
And, Yes!  It is all about me and my ability to do my business in the way that I best see fit. 

stanwbrown's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-01

BL, were there any conversations about the changing compliance environment and what Indies (beyond the OSJ changes) were going to have to make? How about comments on RJFS and their dropping of fee in lieu of commission accounts?

babbling looney's picture
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Joined: 2004-12-02

Yes. We did discuss the burdensome compliance environment and especially how the regulators may be focusing on the Indy offices more closely in the future because we don't usually have a principle in the office.   We can expect to see more on site visits from the regulators in the Indy offices than in the past. The general concensus is that the regulators don't have a clue on how the industry really works.  and that the changes (more and more paperwork) will confuse and scare the clients.  Most of the arbitration issues have been basically for unsuitable investments (particularly variable annuities), switching and failure to supervise.  More disclosures for the clients to sign and more frequent updating of client information forms and documentation of conversations in the client file.  It seems that more disclosures are looming in the future, especially in the area of fund breakpoints, and that we will be manually calculating these aggregate breakpoints for "every" transaction until we get some sort of a computer program to cover it. It also seems that even handing out a morningstar snapshot/stock intersection report is considered something that we need to keep in client correspondance files and send to the OSJ, but it also seems that an electronic record of these things is good enough.  (At least the anal compliance person thought)
We also had some good discussions on paperless offices and email retention.   I use Act for Advisors and rarely have much actual paper in the form of client notes, statements and copies of letters as I scan in most of these items and keep the client files on back up DVDs.  But I think that I am the exception and not the rule. 
Not too much discussion as a group about the fee accounts at RJ but the RIA's that I spoke to did indicate that they had a system of screening who is applicable for that type of account.  Some of them use  3rd party money managment companies others do the money management themselves.  That was interesting to me as I am considering adding the 66 to my string of licenses and being able to charge by the hour in addition to having some fee based accounts.  I have been helping to settle estates (referred to me by an attorney friend) and they take a lot of time and sometimes generate little or no commissions.  The ability to charge by the hour would be valuable to me.
All in all a good meeting and got some good information.  One thing we could all agree on is we like Hagen Daas ice cream.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Babbling Looney-Thanks for the post, I guess I got my wires crossed on that comment...I appreciate you clarifying.

Starka's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Noggin, what's the deal with IT at Jones anyway?  I'd be the last one to say to jump firms because of the technology, but Jeez!  For what you guys are paying, Rich Malone could do better.  I always felt that they were trying to hang Cadillac fenders on a VW chassis.  Is it all about compliance?  I know they've had their issues with some states regarding supervision.

noggin's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Man if you know the deal, please let me know! The cadillac fenders comment is actually a pretty good observation. It seems to me to be an outlay every few years rather than an ongoing investment in IT.

Starka's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

The technology was the first big surprise I got when I went indy.  I'm guessing that there must be some compliance reason that Jones can't do better than they do.  Of course, they still used the Burroughs system when I started at EDJ, so I suppose they're not doing too badly, relatively speaking.

BigPayDay's picture
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Joined: 2005-01-10

Starka,

You left Jones that long ago and you still can't get Jones out of your mind. Dude get over them. You may want to seek professional help before its too late.

Try this link:

www.jonesanonymous.com

BPD

Starka's picture
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Joined: 2004-11-30

Wow.
Try to imagine how much that hurt.

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