What do you mean?

Conflicts of interest – people get paid more to put you in this investment versus that investment. That’s the majority of the industry. If you give a human a conflicted choice where there are economics involved, they will usually choose poorly.

That’s a good pitch, and one you and a lot of other independent firms make, but is it enough to convince clients to switch?

That’s one of the biggest issues. Marketing dollars trump quality almost every day of the week. Even a top adviser doesn’t have the $1 billion a year like Bank of America to spend on marketing and branding. People associate a brand with stability and stability with safety.

So, where does that leave you?

I’ve been fortunate to be ranked among top advisers by Barron’s for multiple years. I deal with ultra-affluent clients, so I do lots of estate planning work.

But you also want to work with less wealthy clients, right?

My average client today has about $50 million in liquid assets. AdvicePeriod is going to cater to that same clientele, but also leverage technology so we can offer similar solutions – without as much handholding – to a much bigger client base.

Where do you see the investment industry heading?

Technology is changing, giving access to information that Wall Street doesn’t want you to have. Investors will be able to see where their advisers are conflicted or not conflicted.

What other kinds of information do investors need?

There needs to be a move toward simplicity. Take mortgage documents: Nobody reads them and you can’t change them if you wanted to. But if they were simplified down to a level where you could figure out the stuff that’s important to you, it would be much easier to consume. That’s some of what needs to happen in this industry. We’re buried in legalese.

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