Sharing stories of independence

Sharing stories of independence - 1

By Meredith Richard, Senior Manager, Communications

When Schwab Advisor Services’TM creative teams envisioned a podcast about the journey to becoming an independent RIA, there was only one man for the job of host: Senior Business Consultant Jerry Cobb, who also happens to be a self-proclaimed “recovering journalist.” He covered business and financial markets as an on-air correspondent for 20 years, most of that time with CNBC. During that period, he had the opportunity to witness firsthand the remarkable growth of the RIA model. Now, as a member of Schwab Advisor Services’ business consulting team, Cobb works with investment advisory firms on a range of practice management issues. He might work with a leadership team over weeks or months on a project like creating a strategic plan or designing a process to increase client referrals. Or, he might have a single problem-solving conversation.

Jerry Cobb Quote

“On one level, it’s about helping a firm improve specific, measurable things like profitability, productivity, and growth. But on a deeper level, it’s about inspiring people to use their unique talents to do their best work and connecting them to a higher sense of purpose. I consider myself a lifelong learner, so the most rewarding part of my job is discovering new insights and best practices and sharing this knowledge to help our investment advisor clients improve the lives of the people they serve.”

Jerry Cobb, Senior Business Consultant, Schwab Advisor Services
Image of Jerry Cobb, Schwab Advisor Services

Sharing stories of independence - 2

Each advisor has a unique story about his or her journey to becoming an RIA, and Cobb says he’s always fascinated to hear about the challenges and triumphs along the way. The creative teams at Schwab conceived and produced the How I Became an Independent RIA podcast as a way to share the advisors’ stories with others, particularly those who are considering launching their own RIA firm. 

“My role in this process was easy,” said Cobb. “I got to do what I love doing, which is interviewing advisors and presenting their stories so that others can learn from their experiences and gain the confidence to make their own leap to independence.”

Through the podcast, advisors share their experiences and motivations for going independent. They discuss issues they encountered while working in the traditional models, including conflict of interest, excessive bureaucracy, and the need for more ownership and fulfilment and better work-life balance. Though some experienced temporary doubts or setbacks, they all agree that going independent ultimately improved their lives and allowed them to serve their clients in the best way possible.   

Dustin Bench Quote

“I hope that other advisors will be able to learn from our experience. I want others to understand the benefits and realities that exist outside of the wirehouse environment. I know that owning your own business is not for everyone, but for those who are interested, it can be hard to find answers from your peers or those that have already experienced this type of transition.”

Dustin Bench, Partner, Altus Wealth Group
Image of Dustin Bench, Altus Wealth Group

Lori Van Dusen Quote

“Our whole intent is to put the clients first in how we think, the actions we take, and what we provide in terms of advice; that was our motivation behind going independent and also in doing the podcast. We wanted to get the word out. Being able to connect with the audience through that medium and inspire passion and action is really powerful.”

Lori Van Dusen, Founder and CEO, LVW Advisors
Image of Lori Van Dusen, LVW

Sharing stories of independence - 3

“In the series, we hear how advisors grappled with doubt, fear, and anxiety around their decision to go independent and the impact this has on their families and colleagues. We also hear the personal triumph and the sheer joy that comes from overcoming these obstacles and finding the strength to chart your own way forward,” said Cobb. “That transformational journey, to me, is incredibly inspirational and empowering. I hope that’s what listeners take away from these stories.” 

To hear the stories of independence behind Altus Wealth Group, LVW Advisors, Aljian Capital Management, and Opal Wealth Advisors, visit or listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.


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The above mentioned firms and their employees are not affiliated with or employees of Schwab, unless otherwise noted.  They should not be construed as a recommendation, endorsement of, or sponsorship by Schwab.  The views expressed are those of the third party and are provided for informational purposes only.  Experiences expressed are no guarantee of future performance or success and may not be representative of your or your experience.

Schwab Advisor Services™ serves independent investment advisors and includes the custody, trading, and support of Schwab.

Independent investment advisors are not owned by, affiliated with, or supervised by Schwab. For informational purposes only.