Financial Advisors: There’s Never Been a Better Time to Go Independent

I started my career at a big name wirehouse – I’m glad I did. With virtually no knowledge of the industry and even less confidence in my ability, what business did I – a twenty-six-year-old political science major – have telling a newly retired millionaire how to invest her money? The firm educated and mentored me. The firm’s name opened doors that I would have been hard pressed to open on my own and provided me state-of-the-art tools and technology. A 28% payout seemed fair, considering all that was provided me in exchange.

Times have changed. In many cases, the larger the firm, the more antiquated the tech, and the fewer integrations. As a financial professional, it’s time to ask: what value do I receive from my firm? Am I getting a fair bang for my buck? If not, should I go independent? Independence comes with the freedom to choose systems, tools, products, and third-party managers (or to act as your own portfolio manager).

Of course, every registered representative and firm remains subject to SEC, FINRA, and state rules and regulations. It is the job of firms like mine, CoastalOne – indeed, the primary job – to support independent financial advisors. A big part of that is knowing and counseling advisors on what is and isn’t permissible under applicable rules. Compliance departments generally are not “business obstructionists.” Rather, think of them as consultants. Their job is not to tell a registered representative or IAR they cannot do something; rather, their job is to analyze and suggest how one might do something and remain in compliance with the rules. Then, armed with appropriate information and a framework, the decision to proceed or not is up to the advisor.

Rules and regulations set us apart from the cowboys, the bad actors, the con artists, and the purveyors of Ponzi. They protect the investing public from those who might tarnish our industry. Be proud of those rules and regulations under which you operate – embrace them. At CoastalOne, we strive to create and maintain a business environment for advisors that is legal, ethical, and compliant – then assist with removing roadblocks and get out of the way.

Being a technology consultant is a close secondary role for firms like mine. There are a myriad of fintech solutions available today. Our role is to source, evaluate, and approve those solutions that advisors may choose to use in their practices, integrate them with custodians and other systems, and to continue to be a resource in keeping up with the ever-changing fintech landscape.

This combination of compliance and technology expertise makes a compelling case for a move to the independent side of the industry. Advisors should find a firm that can support them the way they want – one that shares their vision and helps them get there.

Clients are getting accustomed to the “new normal.” Many are working from home and moving away from large corporate office environments. Advisors considering independence may be thinking there’s never been a better time.

Charles Reiling serves as President of CoastalOne, including Coastal Equities, a FINRA registered broker-dealer; Coastal Investment Advisors, an SEC registered investment advisor; and Coastal Insurance Services, a division comprised of several insurance agencies providing access to a number of fixed and variable personal lines and business insurance. Learn more at