When I started my own National ERISA/ retirement plan law practice more than 7 years ago, it wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy, but I could no longer see myself working for people who were either too arrogant or too blind to see what the retirement plan industry was turning into.
One of the things I’ve learned over the past 19 years I’ve spent in the retirement plan business is that no matter what happens to you in business, you can’t change who you are. You have your way of doing business, both professionally and ethically, and as long as they are on the up and up, never change that.
One of the things about my practice is that I want to be paid for legal services only, so I’m not going to receive a fee for pushing clients to seek certain providers or advisors I recommend. So when advisors have come to me with these “finder’s fees”, I tell them: ‘thanks, but no thanks.” My legal fees compensate me for my independent legal advice; any other fee is a conflict of interest to helping my clients first.
There may be competing advisors who are unethical (I know of far more successful ERISA attorney who received paid solicitor fees for referring clients to specific providers) or clients who either don’t pay bills (hello John) or drive you crazy, but you should never change who you are.
Never change who you are, no matter the few who treat you badly or act badly in this industry.