“That’s wonderful that your company is paying for your new office.”
“Actually I made that decision for my business and I write the rent checks.”
Building the new SMB office has surfaced some misconceptions about my role as the founder of SMB Financial Strategies, LLC, and the two companies that I represent. In honor of Entrepreneurship Week, I thought it would be helpful to shed some light on this topic.
My primary role is to serve as a financial advisor for my clients but, as an independent contractor with LPL Financial, I wear two hats.
#1: Financial Advisor
#2: Founder of SMB Financial Strategies, LLC: my company, that I built, own and operate.
In this second role, I enjoy the freedom (and responsibilities!) that come with running my own business – most recently, identifying a new office space and custom designing the build out. To be clear, LPL is not building an office for me. I am investing in a new, larger office because I believe in the importance of human interaction and building trusted long-term planning relationships is my top priority. These priorities, as well as the desire to expand and develop other female advisors, drove the need for a larger and more comfortable space with amenities like a kitchen and a conference room.
LPL Financial is the nation’s largest independent broker dealer* and a publicly traded company. SMB utilizes LPL Financial for back office support, regulator expertise and oversight, as well as technology support. The best analogy I can give is that of a real estate agent, who can choose to hang their hat at one of several real estate companies, such as Coldwell Banker, Compass, Gibson Sotheby’s, William Raveis, etc. But the agent is in essence an independent business owner working with a brokerage for support, guidance, and resources necessary to perform real estate work.
To go a little deeper into the difference, I’ll tell you more:
There are two primary benefits of being an independent Financial Advisor:
- Freedom to work with clients from a variety of backgrounds - not constrained to service only those who meet high minimum asset requirements.
- Ability to better meet my clients’ financial needs by giving them access to a larger array of investment options – not just proprietary products.
On the flip side, we do not receive any benefits like a traditional W-2 employee. We must pay out of pocket for things like medical insurance and are responsible for setting up and funding our own retirement plans. In addition, we are responsible for overhead expenses required to run a business, such as rent, payroll, utilities, software, marketing, etc.
It’s important to note that not all financial advisors are 1099 independent contractors; many are W-2 employees of a company. e.g., Morgan Stanley. Being a business owner and entrepreneur is hard work – not everyone is cut out for it! While there are some challenges to owning your own business, the following benefits far out way the challenges for me:
- A rewarding career helping others
- Control of my schedule
- Flexibility I need as a mom
- Pride and satisfaction
- Constant growth and development
For me, the best part of being an entrepreneur is I get to decide my path.
The next important role that I have identified for myself as an Entrepreneur is to recruit, mentor, train and empower more women to join the financial services industry. Call it my third hat! Entrepreneurs and their hats, right?!
I hope that this is helpful in clarifying the difference and relationship between myself, SMB Financial Strategies, LLC, and LPL Financial.
Now I have some questions for you. Are you an Entrepreneur? What are the pros and cons of entrepreneurship for you?
*As reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2021, based on total revenue.