Financial advisors thinking of starting their own businesses should be aware of the enormous task ahead of them.
"It's a huge undertaking. The average person doesn't have a grasp of how overwhelming the compliance burden is," said Jana Shoulders, CEO of Adams Hall Wealth Advisors, which ranked sixth on the CNBC list. A certified public accountant, she launched her fee-only firm in 1997 with two partners from the brokerage industry.
"Being an entrepreneur is great, but you might be better off finding someone established to work with," she said.
The good news is, there is a lot more help in the market now than there was in the past. The growth of the financial advisor industry has been fueled by the development of the support services of the large custodians serving independent advisors.
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Entrepreneurs can get help with all aspects of their business, from marketing and compliance to investment management and operations support. Cornelius at Burt Wealth Advisors suggested that new advisors review the offerings of the big custodians, like Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Pershing Advisor Solutions, as a starting point.
"There is more competition in the marketplace today, but there are also tools and technology that now make it much easier to put together [a financial advisory practice] and get the business up and running quickly," he said. "Don't get bogged down in the details; take advantage of the tools that are out there."