Escape from Financial Alcatraz

Some financial advisors are trapped in their own version of financial incarceration: A small cog in a web of financial deceit chasing commissions and pushing product; moving on to their next kill.

In some ways, it’s better to be a clueless drone in such an environment.

Creating a shield to protect against client’s pain is better than being a complicit accomplice to financial felonies.

What happens when you become self-aware?  That’s when the soul-searching begins.

Advisors often reach out to me looking for a way out.  Many of these individuals work in the ground zero of financial malfeasance: public school teachers’ 403(b) plans.

This came in the other day:

I want to get from point A (commissioned sales) to point B (fiduciary

Is there a breakdown somewhere on how to do this and start my own
office? Do CFP’s need to have worked in the industry for a number of
years before they get credentialed?


I responded.

Thanks for reaching out. I am glad that you realize the company you are working for is part of the problem, not the solution. There is a desperate need for the right people to enter this market. It is much better to understand a flawed and conflicted business model sooner rather than later in your career.

It is very wise to attain your CFP degree. This is the course of the future, not the past. People need planning, not products.

In order to start your own fee-only RIA firm, you need to look at the requirements of each individual state. In NY, they require a series 65 license. Whatever state you are looking to set up shop it might be different. Look up the requirements of your state.

You don’t need a CFP to become an independent RIA but it will certainly make your services more marketable.

There is a certain amount of professional experience hours needed for a CFP.

It might be wise to see if your current firm will sponsor/pay for this while you plot your escape. That is one option. 

The Garret Planning Network provides fiduciary advice and many perks for its members.

Give them a call and explain your situation, I am sure they would like a person with your integrity to join them. They may provide a roadmap on how you can get to the point where you are qualified.

You are making a very smart decision. The idea is to leave the world a better place than when you entered it. The first step in doing this is abandoning a business model that provides incentives to do all the wrong things.

Good luck and please reach out if there is anything I can do to help you.

 Paying it forward is not a bad philosophy to live by.


A few days later I received this:

Thank you so much, Tony, for taking the time to send me that
info!  I took action on that immediately. Garrett seems like a great
place for me to begin this journey and I enrolled in a CFP course as

I’m leaving my firm for now and will be getting my
own office up and running shortly in order to earn my CFP experience
credits. I’m thankful I found you guys and you were willing to help. I am going
to make sure Central Texas teachers get the best they can in
financial planning and could not do it without you.


One brick at a time.