FA: Do you think the loan provisions to help business owners will work?

EDELMAN: The jury is out. We started a small biz and grew into a bigger business, so we understand their plight. Providing small business owners with loans is great. But if the government says that the loan is only forgivable if you’re providing salaries to people you would have laid off, the business owner isn’t getting any relief. Maybe it will work, but we’re not sure. It may be that small businesses can use some funds for payroll and some for other expenses.

FA: What will the upheaval in the economy and markets do to the advisor industry?

EDELMAN: We’re going to see an acceleration in the shakeout that was already going on in the advisor community. At some point, half of the nation’s advisors will be gone. Many were already contemplating their own retirement. At the same time, they’re struggling with greater costs for compliance, marketing, competition and simultaneously fee compression. As assets fall 25%, revenues will fall commensurate with that or more.

We saw this in 2007. An advisor I know saw his assets of $1 billion fall 50% by the end of 2008. Then half of his clients fired him because of his aggressive investing and losses, so his assets fell 75% to $250 million. With this type of scenario, an advisor is simply going to close their doors.

FA: What does that do for firms such as yours that have actively been acquiring firms?

EDELMAN: There’s going to be an explosion in M&A activity once we get through this process. Large firms will get larger because of the dramatic increase. It will be very healthy for our industry and for clients. They’ll find themselves working with far more robust organizations that are better able to serve their needs.

FA: Will this accelerate your growth plans?

EDELMAN: We aren’t focusing right now on long-term growth initiatives and business goals. Our focus today is solely on our current clients and serving their needs and welcoming those that are reaching out to us who are in desperate need of help because they either don’t have an advisor or need a better one. We are the ark for them.

FA: How would you quantify new client growth?