In conjunction with the Business & Wealth Management Forum near Chicago in October, I hosted a leadership forum that was basically a six-hour brainstorming session with 40 of the best minds in the planning community. Our goal: to identify serious challenges to the profession and figure out what we could do about them. As it turns out, we never got past No. 1, and the more we talked about it, the more the group moved to a state of alarm from complacency. By the end of the day, we concluded that Wall Street is creating a plausible way to eliminate the independent RIA community.

I wrote a 15-page report on our deliberations, available to anybody who asks me for it. But the chain of logic is not hard to follow. Brokerage firms have been losing market share to independent RIAs for decades. Since the 2008 market disaster, scandals, bailouts, bankruptcies and forced sales, this erosion has accelerated - reinforced by an exodus of top brokers who see how good it is working where nobody tells you what to sell.

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