Published 12/13/2015 in The Maryland Daily Record
It would take a great deal for me to ever imagine a time that I would be writing you a letter to share my disappointment in anything you have spoken, written, shared or inspired. For years, it is your wisdom that I have
turned back to as a reminder and guide. That anything is possible when we decide what exactly it is that we want. That all of the resources needed, are already right here, available, within ourselves.
Your motivating words were there for me during life’s most critical, turning point moments. The times when I searched for the strength and the path to right myself, it was your energy, conviction and clarity that filled my commute and comforted me to sleep at times when sleep didn’t come easily. Your power helped transform my power. Your voice was my energy source. It was a one-way relationship where you did all of the giving and I all the taking. Your contribution never wavered.
It was this mindset that I learned from you that supported my decision to change the course of my career and establish my own RIA in 2009. Knowing that life in retail brokerage was broken and wrong on so many levels, I
charted a new course to addresses the disparities and misaligned structure that is the essence of the brokerage industry. There was tremendous push-back from colleagues, patronizing treatment of peers that had made similar choices implying that what they did would be much too difficult for me given that I was a young mother and already had far too much on my plate. But not you. You wouldn’t have been a doubter. I knew that I could rely on your encouragement and that belief would transcend.
My confidence in your message has been one of total parity. Never have I felt a gender lens on your message, never have I felt that your words were geared toward any specific type of person. Your words have always felt
Until now. Until I began to listen and follow your entrance to the financial services conversation. At first hopeful. I was actually relieved that finally a voice of reason would be available to the masses, who often place such blind trust on large financial institutions who are so undeserving. I was sure that you would echo the feelings that I have after working in this broken industry for close to 20 years. But you didn’t …
You arrived armed with your “top 50” and it turned out to be the same top 50 that have been the same for eternity. You came in armed and equipped with real inside information, unique perspective, and some new insight not yet available. What a disappointment to learn that your most trusted resources are the same people who have shaped the inequities in an industry with such clearly dominant representation for the same old same old.
To come away from your outside observation of the industry and fail to acknowledge that inequity exists, that a critical part of the problems of the industry are the barriers that are in place and that there is a likeness of the adviser population that doesn’t accurately represent the complexion of the consumers demanding our services is unimaginable from you … though I have yet to see or hear any evidence to the contrary.
So far, the key takeaways are that investors need to be more aware of the fees they are paying, the risk they are taking and the products they have selected. The triple crown of financial services summarized by you after the privileged chats you had with the leadership of this industry. Perhaps if this message was delivered in 1990 or even in 2000, we could accept this as new thinking. However, as we approach 2016, it is truly nothing new and even more so, nothing inspiring.
You had the opportunity of a lifetime to genuinely transcend the old boys club that is so embedded and seemingly impossible to move from the ground up. All you have done is built a deeper foundation on top of what was already there. For the first time in our powerful relationship, I can’t relate to your words and I am lost in the lack of equality in your message. I realize that it is not overt. That in promoting your “guy Ajay” and helping to build upon your guy’s breakaway story as one that is trailblazing is to miss what lies beneath this story — that for the first time in your entire career, you are actually simply doing more of the same.
I leave this letter heartbroken yet determined that our earlier, long-term relationship that has served me so well will prevail. But I know in my heart you have lost one big raving fan.