When Ric Edelman was a rookie financial journalist, he and his wife decided they wanted to buy a house, but they didn't have the money to make it happen. So they did what many other couples in their position might have done: They hired a financial planner. It was not a good experience. The adviser offered shady advice from the get-go, failed to help them reach their goal, and ultimately ripped them off.

Ric Edelman got mad. Real mad. As a result, he ended up creating the largest independent financial advisory firm in America.

Here's how.

Consider the vast majority of financial advisors. Even if they are working under the umbrella of a major institution, they are usually responsible for generating new business. Furthermore, they are compensated via commissions on the products they sell. As such, many use tactics such as networking to attract new clients and focus on the relative costs and returns of various financial instruments when pitching.

Not Ric Edelman. He had a different motivation than that of his competitors. His anger about how he had been treated sparked in him the desire to spread the gospel about the options and alternatives that everyday people have when it came to taking charge of their personal finances. He emphasized the achievement of life goals rather than return on investment. And he ran a 100 percent fee-based investment business to avoid the temptation to push any one instrument over another.

Ric was driven by the idea of arming unsuspecting consumers with the one weapon he felt could protect him from the kind of unscrupulous treatment he had received: knowledge. From the start, he spent the bulk of his time educating people about basic financial literacy through every means available to him, including radio, articles, talks and eventually TV. And he measured success not only by how many people hired him, but by how many reclaimed control of their own financial destinies.

The approach has certainly paid off. Today the firm has 38 offices in 15 states, has 500 employees, and 26,000 families. Try taking a page out of Ric Edelman's book. Ask yourself this: What about your industry makes you mad? Is there an approach out there that is doing a disservice? Are your competitors withholding knowledge because they believe it is to their benefit if their clients are kept in the dark? If so, speak out. Teach. Inform. You'll be amazed by how you're business will grow when your anger leads you to strive to make sure your audience--and clients--never have anything to complain about.

Published on: Dec 9, 2014
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