"When Ric monetized the equity he had in his practice in 2005, it was really a seminal event in the independent financial advisor business," says Mark Goldberg, president of Carey Financial and the former CEO of AIG-Royal Alliance, which was once Edelman's broker-dealer. "It set in motion an incredible discussion in the industry that included valuation methodologies, succession planning and ultimately a shift in relationship between the financial advisor and broker-dealer."

So why would people like to take potshots at him? In part because of his success. "People who accomplish big things generally engender both admiration and envy, and I think Ric Edelman has accomplished great things," Goldberg says.

"I can remember when people would say the reason he's been successful is because somehow he got on Oprah. Or the only reason he's successful is because of X, Y and Z," Goldberg says. "At the end of the day, the reason he's successful is because he's talented, he's extraordinarily driven, and he works very hard."

But it's not just his success that ticks people off. It's that he takes aim at some long-standing industry standards, like the amount investors are charged to buy mutual funds and how open the funds are about the extent of those fees.
"Anytime someone is critical of something, it creates resentment," says Ball, who is now co-CEO of The Edelman Financial Group, the name that Sanders Morris Harris converted to last year. "And there are people that resent the fact that Ric is openly saying the king has no clothes. On the other hand, I think there are many more people within the industry who admire Ric for his candor."

When he was a financial journalist reporting on some of the limited partnerships of the early 1980s, Edelman would interview the general partners, who would brag about how much money they were raising, and yet few would talk about how much money they were making for their limited partners. As a youngster with an idealistic streak, Edelman says he was appalled.

"I looked at the money these guys were making by giving bad advice. I thought, imagine how much money you could make giving good advice," Edelman says.

He went to work for a broker-dealer in Virginia, and his wife, Jean, went to work for PaineWebber, the theory being that she would learn the back-office operations, and he would learn the front office, and they would form a firm of their own in three to five years. But then came the stock market crash of 1987, and the broker-dealer firm went bust, forcing the Edelmans to accelerate their plans. They launched Financial Partners Limited with three other reps from the broker-dealer, but within six months, two of the three left. The last one left in 1991, and Edelman, then 31, launched with his wife a firm of their own, Edelman Financial Services.

"The reason we wanted to help people was because we went looking for financial advice, and we couldn't find it," Edelman says. "The only resources out there were Louis Rukeyser and Money magazine. And the only advice people got was from stockbrokers and insurance agents, who were trying to sell them stuff."

They went on a mission to educate people, and they began by doing college planning seminars for elementary school PTA groups. Edelman says the parents would always say, "Why are you talking to us? You should be talking to the PTA for the high school. They're the ones sending their kids to college." He had to explain that you can't begin saving for your children's college education when they're 16.

He became known as an educator and was interviewed on a radio show about money. That led to another interview and, eventually, his own show, which he still does almost 20 years later.

First « 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 » Next