"The last thing you want to tell Ric Edelman is to hold his punches. He's not good at that. But that doesn't mean he's constantly punching," Perlin says. "But when he feels you've reached the point of decision, or when urgent action is required, he's not going to sit back quietly and let things take their course."

It's not hard to see where Edelman got his promotional skills. His dad, Norm, started the Kegler Bowling Club in the 1960s and went on to become one of the biggest bowling tournament promoters in the country. He published newsletters each week promoting his tournaments, and wrote all the copy, laid out the pages, and took all the photos himself. Edelman remembers spending many Wednesdays bundling copies of it together to be delivered to the local post office. It was a time when bowling was a huge, lucrative sport and pro bowler Don Carter became the first athlete to sign a $1 million endorsement deal while athletes like Arnold Palmer and Joe Namath were getting less than $10,000, Edelman says.

Norm Edelman may also be where Ric Edelman got his fighting spirit. The elder Edelman was the first to offer first place prizes of $1,000, a practice that led to his battle with the Professional Bowlers Association, who saw him as a competitive threat. The association began prohibiting its members from bowling in non-PBA tournaments offering prizes of $1,000 or more. Norm Edelman's response? He lowered his top prize to $999, his son says.

Most advisors are either salesmen or market timers or they are simply seeking out the very largest clients, says Ball. What differentiates Ric Edelman is that he's a superb communicator, he's extremely intellectual in his approach to the financial business, and he's, at heart, a populist. He wants to help all investors, both large and small.

"Wirehouse advisors have no choice but to seek out only the wealthiest clients," Ball says. "If you look at Merrill Lynch, they said recently that they won't pay commissions to brokers on accounts with less than a quarter of a million dollars. That highlights what I'm talking about. If my father were alive and he saw that headline, he wouldn't believe it."

But if you're going to be a populist and deal with a lot of people, it's not practical to reinvent the wheel every time. So Edelman created a uniform planning and investment system that could be applied to lots of people and was therefore replicable, Ball says.

The motto of the firm is actually "One Face, One Voice," and everyone within the company is taught the same things so that they react identically to a given situation. At most other firms, including the wirehouses, advisors and brokers will improvise or innovate rather than offer a single message, Ball says.

"The flaw with most independent advisors is that they're actually very good with a prospect client one-on-one and on a one-time basis. But they haven't created a mechanism that lets them efficiently apply the same methodology to thousands of investors," Ball says.

For instance, Edelman's firm has a committee of investment experts and planners that have rigorously designed about 125 investment portfolios for different situations. They then determine which portfolio or group of portfolios is best for which client. Of course if none of them fit, a new portfolio is created. In fact, the firm started with just nine portfolios back in 2005, and that figure grew to 125 precisely because the firm kept encountering cases in which the existing portfolios didn't meet a client's needs. Some portfolios are used by just one client.

"We don't want any client to be dependent on any one advisor," Edelman says. "We believe very much in the Starbucks and McDonald's models. We are, indeed, the Starbucks/McDonald's of the financial planning and investment management field."

First « 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 » Next