Year: 1986. Place: NYC with a great wire-house, I took the Series 7 and 63 and “poof”, I’m a stock broker.
This was before Al Gore invented the internet (actually the protocols for data transfer were invented in 1980 by two computer scientists, Vinton Cert and Bob Kahn and in 1989, Sir Timothy John Berns-Lee, a computer scientist from the UK invented the global network that is the basis for what we use now, known as the World Wide Web). We used black screen, green letter desktops for basic functions and order taking-or we wrote up a buy/sell ticket, gave it to a runner and they took it to the ‘cage’ where a wire operator sent the order to the floor of the stock exchange. And our leads came from…wait for it…….The NYC White Pages phone book. Start with the letter “A” and smile and dial. Brutal way to make a living unless you came from aristocracy but that’s how it was. And being know as a “Stock Broker” back then was paramount to being a demi-god-up there with surgeons and high-profile lawyers.
Time moves on-the industry moves to another place with the advent of discount brokerage with Schwab, Quick and Reilly and Waterhouse Securities being the lead sled dogs in this new business model.
I was one of the original Waterhouse folks and to this day, I’m still friends with the late great Larry Waterhouse’s children-we worked together and I am still grateful to Larry for hiring me. We were basically order takers. This was 1987 and public access to investment information was just becoming available. In truth, most clients still had a bigshot wire-house broker that gave them ideas and then they would call us and we would do the trade for $35, instead of $200 that their wizard wire-house broker would charge. We were called ‘Registered Representatives” back then. No advice, just placing trades.
So, what’s the point of all this retrospective? Things Change! Business as in life always changes and if you don’t change with your business, you’re out of a job and most likely a career.
30 years later and multiple changes to what we were called, we are now in a new phase of the business. Financial planning has become the cornerstone of the industry and the day of the wire-house is nearly over. Being a CFP is nearly a requirement now and all sorts of new designations keep popping up like certifications in blockchain and cryptocurrency advisory. I really don’t know if being a crypto certified advisor is worth the effort(to my friends who have it, I secretly think it’s the beginning of a huge new product offering but I’m too old to take tests-I’m retired!…sort of) but it still looks pretty cool on their curriculum vitae for advisors that want to expand their knowledge on an expanding product offering. Anyway, suffice to say that life-cycle financial planning is where its at now and frankly, it’s a huge service to anyone that doesn’t want to wake up at 65 and expect Social Security to pay your bills and have to live on a subsidy of government cheese.
The Advice Business is King and I expect to be for awhile though how its delivered will change with technology (I’ll discuss this on another post because it’s an important issue).
And its available to anyone and at very reasonable cost and its worth it, trust me. Next week I’ll delve more deeply into the different advice models, costs and levels of service. In the meantime, I love answering questions. Nearly all of my consulting is pro bono so feel free to ask away. I’m basically retired and I need something to do! Have a great rest of the week and weekend!