Early into his career as a financial advisor, Eric R. Ervin says he was keen to observe how his biggest clients had built their wealth. And it quickly became clear to him, he says, that fortunes are made by building businesses, not through a paycheck.

That entrepreneurial spirit propelled Ervin to build a solid wealth management group with Morgan Stanley, but it still wasn't enough. He sought a new challenge, and it came via a client with a proposal: Would he be willing to give up his Morgan practice and comfortable lifestyle to launch an ETF provider? Ervin says he didn't take long to make a decision to leave the wirehouse and co-found San Diego, Calif.,-based ETF provider Reality Shares.

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