I go to bed the night before my 55th birthday dreaming of how many stars my mutual funds have and what their standard deviation is and how well they're performing next to the other similar mutual funds, and I wake up on the morning of my 55th birthday and say, "Do I have any reason to believe that our money will last through a retirement which for one or both of us may be 30 years long?" The minute I open the door a crack to that thought, I think what if I die and the Feds take away 55% of my five-star fund?

You see? And that is the great sort of psychological [watershed] that either does or does not happen to people as they come through their mid fifties. So to the extent that demographics are a governing variable, if not the governing variable, of the retail financial services industry, at least at the high end, you would expect the business to get a whole lot more planning oriented, a whole lot more relationship oriented, a whole lot more holistic and a whole lot healthier in its approach to people.

Simonoff: One thing that the bubble taught many advisors is that they must become more selective about choosing the clients they work with. It's obviously possible to be more fulfilled by working only with those clients you like. Is it possible to maintain or increase your income doing so?

Murray: It's not merely possible, it's inevitable. Again it's almost a "why not." The number of millionaires in this country is growing somewhere between five and seven times faster than the population as a whole.

Which is to say that the number of potentially good clients for the good advisor is growing not arithmetically but exponentially. If I can't find 250 people, 250 households/families with-just to pick a number-$400,000 of manageable assets each, forgetting insurance commissions, forgetting planning fees, forgetting everything else, if as the whole world turns 55 and accretes both income and wealth on a scale not only never before experienced but never before imaginable, if I the advisor can't go out over some reasonable period of time and put together 250 $400,000 households such that I gross at a 1% fee one million dollars, they ought to put me down like an old dog.

Simonoff: What are the best measures or ways to determine if someone who is a prospect is the type of client that an advisor would like to work with?

Murray: I think the large answer is that it's not a technique. It's sort of how do you know you're in love or how you know you want to be somebody's friend. I don't think that that's quantifiable and I don't think you get to it through the left side of the brain. I think most great client-advisor relationships are essentially chemical and the chemistry is sort of what it is.

Now having said that, I think that the advisor has the right and the duty and the need and the obligation to tell the prospect what kind of client he wants. And you do that by saying how you operate. I don't buy individual stocks. I don't buy bonds at all. I don't watch the market. You know I take a long-term perspective.

Even before you get into issues about financial planning, I think anybody who has any sense of himself can tell somebody in 60 seconds what kind of an advisor he or she is. Then you just sit there and see if they turn green or see if they bolt for the door. If they do neither, you know you've got a prospect, or at least a suspect. I think the real bottom-line answer to your question, which is a good one, is to thine own self be true.

Simonoff: If someone says they once spent four hours a day watching CNBC ...

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