Richard Mark Allison started his life insurance career in 1984 and his securities career in 1988. He became a Registered Principal (Series 24) in 1991 and started his first RIA firm. Later, he obtained the Series 9, 10 in the early 2000's where he became the Branch Manager II for Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. in Jacksonville, FL. He learned compliance through a fire hose at Schwab. After leaving Schwab, he went straight back to the RIA world working as either a compliance officer or Chief Compliance Officer for other RIA firms. Today, he owns his own RIA firm, Marian Financial Services, Inc. based in Jacksonville, Florida. Rick understands and stays on top of compliance issues, because just like you, he owns an RIA firm. The advantage of utilizing Rick Allison for your compliance needs is that his vast wealth of experience will likely save you a ton of time, since he has already taken the journey that you are now on.
Rick has had both good and bad experiences as a compliance officer. He has worked with bad apples in the past and has assisted state regulators in their investigations of investment advisers who are up to no good. The first thing you have to understand as the owner of an RIA firm is that state regulators are your friends. They only want you to comply with their rules and make their examination process easier for them. If you do that, then you have no worries.
On the otherhand, if you are unethical and you hire Rick as an outside compliance consultant, then you need to know in advance that he has no qualms about reporting illegal activities. If you are using your RIA firm for criminal activities and Rick finds out about it, then you can rest assured that he will have no problems speaking to state regulators. This may seem harsh to people reading this, but if you care about the RIA industry, then you should also be equally as opposed to these bad actors. Rick's father was in law enforcement as a Chief of Police for two different departments and he majored in Criminal Justice, so he believes in following the law and regulations.
Of course, in the RIA business there is a lot of gray area. When it comes to state regulatory exams, you will find that the examiner in charge of your exam will dictate what is required to get you licensed and keep you licensed. Rick has been through multiple exams in multiple states, including intial licensing in eighteen states. He knows the process and how to get your firm licensed. He also understands that sometimes there are things that are not as critical (gray areas) in an exam and in your documents that you can stop worrying about.
Rick is a soloprenuer and is not looking to build a national conglomerate. In fact, he is limiting the number of RIA firms that he does business with. He wants to be able to respond quickly via text, phone, email and screen share meetings to his RIA firm clients.
There is no such thing as a cookie cutter approach in this business. Every RIA is different. Rick starts with a clean slate and has no preconceived notions about your business. However, he does have experience with several different technology platforms that allows him an understanding of the programs that you may use in your business. Odds are that he is using the same technology or has used it at one time or another.
When you factor in the cost, the questions to ask yourself are . . ."Is my time better spent working on growing my business, or learning about the intricate always changing details of the laws and statutes related to RIA firms? What will be the time commitment to "learn" everything that you need to know to start an RIA firm from a regulatory standpoint? How comfortable are you about having your first exam where they knock on your door unannouced?" Sometimes these exams last one day and sometimes two days. Would it make sense to have someone who knows how to answer the examiners questions and put those answers on a thumb drive making you look good? The cost is well worth it. Especially, if you use $100 per hour as a baseline for your time. (Most compliance lawyers charge $250 per hour to draft documents.) If you would spend more than 36 hours on compliance issues, (trust me. . .you would) then you are better off hiring Rick Allison rather than doing it yourself.