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Cambridge CEO Amy Webber on industry's fraught question: What's in a name?

The firm's chief has led growth to an expected $1 billion in revenue this year from $7 million in 1998 when she joined. It's a matter of embracing the sector's evolution, she says.

Cambridge Investment Research CEO Amy Webber has viewed the independent broker-dealer sector's evolution on multiple levels.

For starters, there's the Fairfield, Iowa-based company's substantial growth over her more than two decades with the firm. The No. 8 IBD by revenue expects to reach $1 billion in 2019 as the company and its rivals transform into providers of a wide range of services from their roots as transaction processors.

Webber sees the changes as only accelerating in the future, she said in an interview with Financial Planning Senior Editor Tobias Salinger. Therefore, many complex issues go into the questions of a firm's name and position within the larger wealth management field. Still, Webber says she believes the industry often attaches too much importance to classifications.

"I would really like to see the industry as a whole — and this may not happen in my career time — stop worrying so much about the labels and focus on the delivery of service and the value to the investor," Webber says, noting that independent financial advisors are frequently a client's first call to help arrange a loved one's funeral, purchase a new car or even find shelter during a natural disaster. "It's that that is important. It is those relationships that should be across-the-board talked about. It is life planning, it is a life relationship in many cases."

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