It seems like almost every day we hear about another advisory team leaving a big wirehouse broker to form an independent RIA firm. But we seldom hear many details on why and how they made the move.

The cover story by Editor-In-Chief Evan Simonoff on page 62 provides those kinds of details-a behind-the-scenes look at how a group of financial advisors walked out of their broker-dealer one Friday afternoon and began operating Luminous Capital one hour later.

It sounds simple, but the new firm was years in the making. The feelings of excitement and promise of starting a business come through in the article, as well as the expansiveness of the undertaking. But the comments that may be of particular value to financial advisors who also have dreams of starting their own firms come from Brian Hamburger, a lawyer who was instrumental in helping the partners structure Luminous so that it was ready for business the day they left their former employer. Hamburger knows what it takes to plan, open and run an independent RIA. Although the long-term rewards may be significant, getting started and growing a business may be more involved and challenging for many people than they realize. His comments may help some advisors reflect on what is most important to them and whether running their own firm will be something they enjoy.

The cover story isn't the only article in this issue that may make you pause and think about how to run your advisory business. Senior Editor Jeff Schlegel interviews the founders of Merion Wealth Partners, an aggregator that brings together financial advisors under one umbrella. Can an aggregator like Merion help an advisory business like yours grow? Andy Gluck's column on page 39 also focuses on practice management by reviewing growth strategies, business planning and how to target new markets.

I'm very pleased to welcome a contribution on page 29 from a new columnist, Somnath Basu, a professor of finance at California Lutheran University who is actively involved with many financial planning organizations. In fact, if you attended the Financial Planning Association 2010 conference in Denver last October, you may have heard Basu's engaging presentation on the global economy.  In his inaugural column for FA, he explores a problem that many advisors most likely have faced after the financial crisis: clients at or close to retirement who need to withdraw income from portfolios with values that have declined dramatically. Basu explores sequence risk-the risk of retiring at or just before the peak of a business cycle-and how advisors can account for it in their planning models.

The Parting Shot column by Meir Statman on page 104 considers the many benefits people want from investments beyond money and why trying to dissuade clients from those aims doesn't make sense. The Finanical Life Planning column by Roy Diliberto on page 51 reflects on the fiduciary standard and looks at examples of what happens to clients when it's ignored.

There are many more articles in FA this month that I hope will interest you. If you have any ideas for articles, please send them to me at [email protected]. Thanks for your support, and I hope to see you at some of our upcoming events this year. You can learn more about them at  


Dorothy Hinchcliff, Managing Editor
E-mail me at [email protected] with your opinion.