Simonoff: Yes.

Murray: The only thing that I can imagine, and I can well imagine, would prompt me to consolidate was that my span of control in terms of the expertise that I brought that family was not sufficient. The consolidation that I see coming in small practices is interdisciplinary, that you will have a CFP and a CIMA and a CPA and a CLU under the same roof. Not a CFP consolidating with other CFPs necessarily. Because the post-Glass-Steagall trend, which is one plan, one planner, one door, one desk will cause or should cause, I think, a lot of interdisciplinary consolidation of practices, which I think is potentially an unalloyed good thing. But it's not responsive to your question, and it doesn't accept your question's premises, if you see my point.

Simonoff: And you think that premise is somewhat flawed?

Murray: Yes I do. Your question, that is often asked, infers a relationship between the number of competitive players out there and the cost structure of a small- to medium-sized practice, and I don't accept that premise. I mean, there's pressure on my salary structure but it's the pressure that's implicit on a 5% unemployment economy.

It's got nothing to do with other pressures that are unrelated to the competitive environment, whatever that is.

Simonoff: Several observers have mentioned that one of the assumptions behind the argument that business is likely to become increasingly institutionalized is that the institutional assumption is it's a faceless relationship.

Murray: All of these devil theories that presuppose extreme price sensitivity, that presuppose dominance as a reality in financial services, ignore the fundamental reality of retail financial services, which is that it is so intensive and relationship-oriented and therefore not price-sensitive. And not even competition-sensitive.

Simonoff: Go back to what you said a minute ago about the increasing likelihood of interdisciplinary consolidation.

Murray: I see it happening in small-to-medium size practices to create the family financial office. That's the wave of the future. Any other approach is counterintuitive. Why did I, with no one holding a gun to my head, go to an investment advisor, a life insurance agent and a bank, all of whom gave me wildly conflicting, indeed contradictory, advice. Why did I do that?

Simonoff: You had little choice.

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