Ever since last September, when an ordinary bear market turned vicious and a mild recession became the Great Recession, a certain type of individual keeps surfacing in my thoughts. I suspect that this individual is typical of many clients and is often an ideal client.

Those typical clients are family stewards between 50 and 80 years old and they have done almost everything right from a financial planning viewpoint. Granted, they may have made a few investing mistakes before they retained you as an advisor. They might even have made a few mistakes since then. They may have been a little too generous with their children and grandchildren.

But the financial advisor's typical clients are people who have worked hard and saved hard for much of their adult lives for a variety of reasons, chief among them being to provide a better life for their families and themselves. As people, of course, they are far from perfect, but many are caring, considerate and, compared to the average American, far more sophisticated and responsible regarding their financial lives.

From anecdotal evidence I've heard, most were prepared as best they could be for the bear market that unfolded in the first eight months of 2008. It was what came next that blindsided them, like the rest of us.

Of course, their reaction to the tsunami varies all over the place. Some family stewards I know blame themselves, others blame their advisor, and a few possess enough wisdom and a serene temperament that they don't blame anyone. From what the market research says, virtually all of them are furious with Wall Street. Washington doesn't rank very high either.

A staggering number of affluent are talking about moving their accounts, if the research is to be believed. While there is some evidence of this happening, it has yet to turn into a tidal wave.

Inertia is a powerful force, but don't expect it to remain permanent. After having dinner with a leading market researcher in late April, I learned that many wirehouse clients still are seriously considering moving to an independent advisor.

What are they waiting or? First, many remain too shell-shocked and paralyzed by the markets to do anything. Furthermore, they may like what they've seen and heard about the small advisory firm down the street, but since it's a small business, they want to see if it survives the current recession.

I'm not implying that all the new prospects out there looking for advisors are going to be perfect clients. Some expect a clairvoyant advisor, who they believe should have gotten them out before the roof caved in.

But there is an unprecedented opportunity out there today, as you can read in this month's interview with Nick Murray on page 30 and in other articles throughout this issue. The opportunity is yours.

Evan Simonoff, Editor-in-chief
E-mail me at [email protected] with your opinion.