If at all possible, we aim to provide people of the RIA business with the brainfood they need to be among the in-the-know and on-the move of the industry.
We founded RIABiz in August of 2009 and started by throwing out the thou-shalt books that tell how to run magazines, newspapers, blogs, news websites, directories and research services. We wanted the color, captions and quality of The Economist, the timeliness of Bloomberg, the personality of your favorite blog and the online destination that doesn’t look like a makeshift way of putting print content onto a website.
When we get a pile of research we want to share, we try to put it into English. We are competitive people and want to break every useful story. We are intellectually vain and want to introduce every new angle. We want to be part of the Google+ generation that puts information with faces and we use them at every opportunity.
Will we succeed in all this with our modest staff and chimp-sized brains? Not always. But hopefully the debris of our efforts will continue to give you a dynamic stopover on your daily meandering of the Internet and instill you with similarly hyper-charged idealistic business objectives that – when they fall short – still stand taller than what’s typically out there.
RIAs are on the march.
Registered investment advisors are faster-growing, better automated, better appreciated and have more market share than ever before. They are becoming magnets for assets.
Not only are hundreds of brokers becoming RIAs as a means of better serving clients, but clients are taking matters into their own hands. They are withdrawing assets from brokerage accounts at UBS, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and moving them to RIAs with names like Hokanson Associates and Portland Global Advisors. This is not all happening by accident. RIAs embody careful planning and ethical dealings, and Wall Street’s failings have made this far more apparent.
At the same time, however, RIAs are chronically challenged by being fragmented into 15,000-firms. They have no single voice and this gives them their own public-relations problem. Nobody knows what they are -- or how to describe them. The best description I found is more than 700 words long. RIAs call themselves wealth managers, financial advisors, investment consultants, investment managers and other tags that prove next to nothing. Brokers use all these names, too, and then some. This is important to note: It’s often easier for RIAs calling themselves wealth managers to relate to an RIA called an investment manager than to a broker called a wealth manager. The reason for this is that, unlike many brokers, RIAs tend to make a plan for clients and then hold themselves accountable for sticking to it.
Though RIAs have detailed plans for their clients, there’s no comprehensive plan for their industry as a whole. The principals of 15,000 RIA practices interact through various asset custodians, trade publications and associations in an ad hoc manner. While these forums engender good discussions, better ones are needed. Five years from now, brokers don’t want to be discussing how they missed the RIA boat. RIAs don’t want to be discussing how they allowed wirehouses to return to prominence or how the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, brokers’ self-policing body, snuck in and made their lives miserable. RIAs want to be able to say they have found ways to achieve scale, execute succession plans and bring aboard breakaways.
It’s vital that real discussions start now while assets are in motion and the post-crisis attitudes of brokers and their clients are unfixed. RIABiz believes it has a place in this process. We believe that other publications share characteristics with the old party lines that I grew up with in rural Maine. You literally shared phone service with your neighbor. RIABiz is a dedicated line where all communications are intended solely for your RIA family. We hope you find this a useful and refreshing change for realizing the strength of RIAs as a distinct industry.
Brooke Southall and the RIABiz team
Brooke is known locally in Sausalito, Calif. as a cyclist, houseboater, and the guy with the huge dogs. On the web he's known as a regular voice on the happenings of the RIA business. He started RIABiz in 2009 after deciding the industry could use a more focused channel of information, which has proven to be the case.
He oversees the flow of articles on RIABiz, but still gets to spend a considerable amount of time reporting and writing. Somehow he manages to pump out story after story despite his frequently crashing Windows laptop and his hunt-and-peck typing method.
Frank hails from the Garden State, and regardless of being here in the Bay Area, he's always rooting hard for his beloved Yankees. He's in agreement of the local opinion that the Panda will not hit his weight this season playing for his new team in Boston.
Frank heads-up the RIABiz advertising program, along with tending to his duties of managing our business and finances. He's been in publishing within the advisory market since starting at InvestmentNews in 2000, at about the same time Brooke became the RIA-beat reporter for our former employer.
He lives with his wife, Roni, along with their 3 teenage daughters (plus a mutt) in San Anselmo. Almost every day, Frank can be found running or hiking the trails around Mt Tamalpais.
Dina is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and has worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor for publications including The New York Times, the New York Daily News, Investment News, Stage Directions and Oxygen.com. Her book, “Little Red: Three Passionate Lives Through the Sixties and Beyond,” was published in March 2013 by PublicAffairs Books. Dina lives and works in New York City and Miami Beach.
Sanders has been writing for RIABiz since January 2014. The soft-spoken recent graduate of the University of Chicago grew up and remains based in Yarmouth, Maine where clams are not slang for dollars. Before journalism, Sanders worked in politics and also wrote reports for an angel investing group. When not working, Sanders is reading and usually it's a real book.
John and Dawn live in the Northwest in Bellingham, Washington, are avid outdoors people, and are really into bicycles, kayaking and motorcycles. They are new to the RIABiz world but are quickly learning that there are a lot of great people in the financial advisory business.
They are excited to see the rapid growth of RIABiz and the Directory in the past few months and the future looks even better.
Terence maintains the RIABiz website and email system. He has a background in pediatric medical imaging research, and first ventured into software engineering when his work called for manipulating large data sets. Terence enjoys big data challenges and is currently located in Toronto, Canada.