Editor’s note: this guest post is from Derek N.H. Notman, CFP®, Founder and CEO at Intrepid Wealth Partners. He led the Practice Management Takeover webinar we hosted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022, a replay of which can be viewed here.
Tips for financial advisors to set up an RIA
Redtail serves a lot of financial advisors, some independent, some affiliated with wire houses, BDs, etc.
For advisors looking to break away and start their own registered investment advisor, here’s a list of tips & considerations you should think about on your journey to independence.
I took this journey myself, making the transition in December of 2021, to form my own RIA (Intrepid Wealth Partners) where I use the Redtail CRM, and learned a ton along the way. Please use this blog post as a way to learn from my journey.
What is a Registered Investment Advisor?
A Registered Investment Advisor is a firm with at least one Investment Advisor Representative that advises clients on investments and manages their financial portfolios, and is registered with the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) or a State securities authority.
To become an RIA, you must meet certain legal and professional qualifications, such as passing the Series 65 exam or maintaining your CFP® designation, completing Form ADV parts 1, 2, and 3, and registering with the SEC, and updating your U4 when making the transition.
Although these things are necessary to get up and running there are other items that are equally important and will need your attention.
Tip One: Define Your Why
Without knowing your Why, the rest will be more challenging. Ask yourself the following:
- Why do you want to become an independent Financial Advisor?
- What does running your own firm mean to you?
- How would your life change if you started a registered investment advisor practice?
- Why is now the time to start?
- Will the grass be greener?
Knowing what you want and, more importantly, why you want it assists in keeping you motivated and focused when the going gets tough.
Tip Two: Existing Contracts and Risk
Most of us as advisors have signed some form of contract with our present/existing firm. It’s important to know what they say and what liability you may be exposed to when starting your own firm.
Non-Compete & Non-Solicit Contracts
Do you have a Non-Compete or Non-Solicit contract? What are the terms of these contracts? Have they been enforced by your firm in the past?
These contracts differ from one company to the next and even from one state to the next. There are many gray areas here, so if you aren’t especially sure about the contracts you’re bound to, consider speaking to an attorney who’s familiar with these types of contracts.
What does your spouse have to say?
Make sure you have a transparent and to the point conversation about leaving your present employer, what it means, and the risks that are involved.
Your spouse will be one of your biggest supporters and deserves to know everything about the transition you’re considering. Without their support it will be a lot harder to make the move.
Calculate your risks
Leaving your existing firm could be a significant risk on your part so you really should be intentional on any and all risks you subject yourself to.
Assess the pros and cons before executing your move. If you are careful enough in your planning and execution, you will make your move to independence as smooth as possible. Make sure you spend time identifying the risk and evaluating if it’s worth the reward.
This isn’t a spur of the moment idea, it’s something that needs to be carefully thought out and planned. I thought about my own transition for almost a year and then spent another 4 months getting everything in order to make it happen.
Tip Three: What client data are you bringing to your new registered investment advisor?
As part of examining your existing contract you will learn what client data you can and cannot bring with you. This will vary depending on a variety of factors but make sure you find out early on in your transition process as you will want to communicate, as allowed to, with your existing clients so they will know what’s coming and why.
Speaking to your clients will realistically take months so don’t plan on a blast email on a Friday and think everything will be ready to go on Monday.
Tip Four: Your Brand & Niche
You will need to determine the name of your firm. This will drive everything from your website URL to your marketing initiatives and logo design and a color scheme.
If you’re like me you may already be operating under a brand or DBA so bringing that name brand with you will be much easier than having to start from scratch. If you’re operating under your own proper name now then you will want to give yourself time to figure out a brand, name, logo, etc. that will resonate with you and your niche clients.
Your branding is your definition of your ideal client. In a perfect world, what does your ideal client look like? Who do you want to cater to? What is unique about their demographics?
By defining your ideal client, you’re finding your niche. And this is imperative when it comes to your branding as you’ll want to gear everything towards them.
All of this can seem overwhelming which is why I created my Conneqtor financial advisor training & course to show advisors exactly how to do all of it.
Tip 5: Some RIA housekeeping Items
Although not as fun as figuring out your brand, etc., you will still need to tackle the following tasks and then some:
- Filing your RIA entity paperwork (LLC, S-Corp, etc.)
- Know the rules and regulations of the state you are filing in
- Tax ID for your entity
- Will your RIA be State or SEC-registered?
- Notice file in each state you are registered in
- Update your U4, the timing of this is delicate
- Business bank account and credit card
- Set up payroll service
- Establish a retirement plan and Health and E&O Insurance
This is not by any means an exhaustive list but what I’m sure you can see here is that there are a lot of moving parts in play. Some of these things you can do on your own. Some you can ask your CPA and/or attorney to help with, and some can even be done by firms like FIN Compliance (I use them).
Something also to keep in mind is what will you do for things like leadgen, digital marketing, and your tech stack to serve your clients?
For more on all of this and then some make sure to watch my Going Indy webinar replay I did for Redtail and part two of my guide for going independent on my Conneqtor blog.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now then you are not alone. Making a move to independence is a big deal and should not be considered lightly. You may be feeling like you need to make the move right now but most likely you actually have some time to be thoughtful and make the move a good one for you and your clients.
I hope these tips and resources have given you some direction in starting your own registered investment advisor.
Sending positive vibes your way!