I have always loved stories that are relatable for all time, and in the financial services industry, for all RIA firms. The wolf in sheep’s clothing seems particularly powerful at this moment. The ‘wolf’ type of personality takes forms in several ways – the first being that they are always guarded and understand their prey. They live to take power instead of empowering others, and while wolves can seem sweet on the outside, they will often show you their teeth. They will charm you at first, but then manipulate emotions to get what they want. They show up in many forms: as a buyer, aggregator, banker, integrator, or consultant. Their intentions are to get their deal done and usually aren’t about taking care of you, your team, and your clients.
It is extremely important to be able to spot these wolves and not engage with them. This goes back to great leaders! Leaders like I discussed in my previous NesBIT, ‘Eyes Wide Open’. Great leaders evaluate fully and are logical, not emotional. They don’t get stuck in the stories filled with holes that some wolves spin. There are some RIA firms that will buy into what sounds great on the outside, without grasping a full understanding of the long-term consequences.
The RIA world as we know it finds itself at another pivotal moment in time, and it is important to recognize that this isn’t the first time this has happened in our industry. We have watched big brokerage firms and custodians grow through mergers and acquisitions. Now we are watching many RIA firms repeat history with their growth, stemming from the same interest: to be bigger. You may have heard, or will hear from these firms, that size and scale matters. It’s not new news, but it is important to beware.
When you are ready to logically evaluate what is the next move for your firm, remember: do not let yourself be eaten by the wolves.