With the investment universe  collapsing around them a year ago and headhunters calling them virtually every day, seasoned brokerage veterans John P. Jagger and Charles P. Huebner knew they were at a crossroads.

At the ages of 68 and 64, respectively, they figured they could get away from it all and go into retirement. They could also stick it out at UBS or move onto something new.

The decision, it turns out, wasn't hard at all. Huebner scoffed at the notion of retiring. "That made no sense at all," he says now. And while he admits that all investment managers were under the gun at the time, things were a little tenser at UBS and other wirehouses.

After considering their other options, such as moving to another firm or transitioning to a hybrid RIA model, they decided to go full throttle: They started their own independent RIA.

On Friday, Feb. 12, Jagger and Huebner, and Huebner's 31-year-old son Paul, resigned from UBS after working there as a team since 2003. The following Monday they set up shop as Pointe Capital Management LLC in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.

As Huebner sees it, it was the riskiest option of them all-but potentially the most rewarding.

"It truly is the most expensive route," he says. "Instead of signing a big contract you're hanging up your own shingle and paying out money."

In the end, he says, the payoff is the ability to serve clients with complete freedom. In the wirehouses, Huebner said, it is difficult to put clients into investments not covered by the in-house research department. That meant, for example, that if he wanted to put shares of Berkshire Hathaway into a client portfolio, he'd likely have to explain the move to the compliance department.

"You can truly go out and seek investments that fit your clients," he says. "It's wide open instead of being a captive of your own firm and having to sell what they have in inventory or have access to."

He sees other advantages to full independence. Pointe Capital, he notes, is free to seek out multiple sources of research without having to run hurdles through a compliance department. The firm's now has access to a near "infinite" number of fixed-income sources, he says. They also expect trading costs to go down as a clearing and custody client of Pershing Advisor Solutions.

The team, which managed hundreds of millions at the time it left UBS-Huebner declined to give a specific number-says it is encouraged with the reception they've received thus far from its former UBS clients.

They are also heartened by the fact that their administrative assistant, Susan Doughty, resigned from UBS to join them in their new venture. They also got a pat on the back from Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, who attended the firm's opening ceremony.

For Jagger and Huebner, it was a move that was better late than never. Each has more than three decades experience in investment trade; they even competed with one another in the Michigan market years ago when Huebner was with Goldman Sachs.

"We had no hestitation at all," Huebner says. "We always considered ourselves driven by the clients' needs and responsive to those needs."

-Raymond Fazzi