Independent vs. Wirehouse: The Pros and Cons (Only You Can Decide)
June 22, 2022
It’s an ongoing debate – working with a wirehouse vs. being an independent advisor – and there are passionate proponents on both sides. Still, if you are a financial advisor pondering a move, you must get past all the noise and look within. Why? It’s a personal decision, one grounded in your goals, your personality, your strengths, the clients you want to work with… and the core of what you believe a financial advisor should be.
There’s no one answer that works for everyone.
Some consider the employee model the best fit for them, while others relish the idea of being their own boss and going independent. Long the “default” model, recent research reveals advisor dissatisfaction with the wirehouse experience: captive advisors indicated significantly lower levels of support from their firm, greater disruption of business services, and more difficulty transitioning to remote work than their non-wirehouse and independent advisory counterparts.
Industry insiders are well-acquainted with the pros and cons of each option. To a great degree they are a mirror image of themselves:
Working with a
Established Firm Brand and Name Recognition
Access to Client Base
Quotas for Proprietary Products
Book of Business Owned by Wirehouse
Inability to Monetize
No Established Name Recognition
No Built-in Infrastructure
No Access to Client Base
No Steady Paycheck
Book of Business is Owned by You
Ability to Monetize Your Work
As illustrated above, each model brings its own set of challenges and benefits. The difference? The cons associated with wirehouse are foundational; they are baked into the brand. Financial advisors who choose the independent route do face challenges, many of which, can be easily overcome–and perhaps even transformed into advantages–by leveraging support and services offered by third-party turnkey providers.
Let’s look more closely at the “cons” of independence and how they can be minimized, or even eliminated.
The large wirehouses carry brand names that are familiar to investors. That can be positive and negative. On the plus side, there’s a gravitas that comes with that recognition and the ability to scale. On the flip side, investors don’t want to be another cog in the wheel. How to thread that needle? Offer a small-firm feel backed by large-firm resources. Be a personalized provider with a deep bench. How? Partner with a firm with the resources to deliver impactful support that resonates with clients.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, nor those uncomfortable with wearing a lot of hats, from HR to marketing and everything in between. But there’s support out there that streamlines administrative chores, addresses staffing needs, provides practice management guidance, and equips you to deploy innovative, integrated technologies. Removing these business-owner “to do” items off your list frees you up to engage clients and prospects and build lasting relationships. Importantly, it also introduces expertise you may lack into your business and brings a fresh perspective to your efforts. Partnering with the right firm is key to achieving long-term success without compromising on quality.
Not having a built-in client base is not the disadvantage you think it is. Independence is about choice, and when you begin your business-building journey in control of the clients you work with, it puts you in the driver’s seat.
Worried about attracting new clients? With the right branding, a well-executed digital presence, a repeatable value proposition, and the concrete solutions to deliver on client needs, building the practice you’ve envisioned is easier than it appears. Access to marketing and social media mastery, practice management experts, and world-class investment solutions helps put you in front of the prospects you want to attract in your community and beyond. Research potential partner firms and work alongside one that offers proven results, to maximize your reach and impact.
As an independent advisor, your earning potential is yours to decide. Fulfilling your promise to your clients means offering best-in-class service, institutional-grade investment solutions, and customized support that addresses a wide range of planning needs. That leads to happy clients and, happy clients are typically the kind of clients that refer. Build your business, your way, serving clients you select. That’s a successful business model.
Partnering with a firm that offers access to the solutions that help you address the needs of a diverse client base is central to your ability to outsource with confidence. For over 25 years, AssetMark’s products, services, and people have empowered successful independent financial advisors to achieve their business goals. Click here to request a consultation.
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