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The Misconceptions of Independence- Volume 5

“I am not sure ‘being independent’ has the same brand recognition.”


September 2016

Erik Mora

“I am not sure ‘being independent’ has the same brand recognition.”




Most of our prior “misconceptions” have been universal and something I hear nearly every time I meet with advisors. This statement I hear about half of the time. It is interesting because those who believe this statement to be true are adamant about it, while the other side is equally passionate about their belief. This is the perspective of some of your peers who have made the transition to independence and also those who have not made a move but still share the belief that independence can carry the same brand recognition, if not more in certain situations.

I would characterize the “brand recognition” discussion into three categories. The first are those advisors who believe that some of the larger independent custodians, like Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Pershing and TD Ameritrade carry the same level (of recognition) or more. They agree smaller shops don’t, but if you transition your accounts to the “big names” your clients will feel secure. Most who shared this believe their clients have or have had an account with one of these large independent custodians.

The second perspective on this topic agreed their current large bank firms have great brand recognition, but since 2008 it hasn’t always been for the right reasons. One advisor shared that it’s great that clients feel safe with his current firm’s big name. However, when that same big name hits the headlines for the wrong reasons he spends too much time defending their actions and that is frustrating. Many believe that some of the larger independent custodians named above carry similar name recognition, but don’t have the same “headline risk” because they only custody money and don’t get involved in other “profit centers” that sometimes carry an undue risk for advisors.  This recent news is a great example.

The last perspective is my favorite, and I believe it to be the truth for high- quality advisors. These advisors believe they are the brand. They will tell me their clients do business with them and not the firm they work for. They know that if they leave and go to another firm, whether it be a large wirehouse or independent, their clients follow. For these advisors, they believe their clients view independence as a positive. They are loyal to the advisor and see their independence from large brand names as the advisor better aligning themselves with the client, as they leave the employee model. Most clients understand an advisor can only serve one master and sometimes W2 advisors are perceived as having to serve the firm, shareholders, and clients. Advisors who believe in their personal brand break free from those potential conflicts of interest.

My goal is to provide you a different perspective than you may get from your current firm. With an ever-changing environment, my hope is you get the information you need to make the best decision for your clients, you, and your business. If you want to further understand your options, please reach out to me for a private discussion.

About Freedom Partners

Freedom Partners' mission is to be the premier service provider for financial advisory firms in Southern California. Freedom Partners provides hands-on support and training that focuses on enhancing and refining the people, processes, and poetry of the partner advisory firms they serve. Their goal is to increase revenue, reduce costs, and help increase enterprise value. Freedom Partner’s A-Z back-office support is delivered by their team of professionals that have had long-standing careers in financial services.  Their experience has been in roles working closely with advisors, but also as top-tier sales representatives in client-facing sales roles. They have successfully helped build and run a RIA and have experienced the full life cycle of a firm.

Freedom Partners believes these experiences are their competitive advantage in the marketplace. Freedom Partners attributes their success to offering a transparent solution that incorporates technology but also delivers the in-office support they believe advisors want and need. FreedomPartners’ Co-Founders have successfully transitioned over $1 billion of assets from Wirehouse firms since 2014. Freedom Partners currently has over $900 million of assets under contract. To learn more about how Freedom Partners may be able to help you, please visit us at or contact us at 949.751.7407.