Disruption Blueprint Podcast

Disruption Blueprint Podcast


The Truth About Being an Independent Financial Advisor Ft. Steve Spaeth, CFP® (Ep. 19)

January 26, 2023

We’re back with another episode of Disruption Blueprint! Today, we are joined by Steve Spaeth, CFP®, Founder and CEO of River Oak Asset Advisory out of Cincinnati, OH.  Steve recently marked his one-year anniversary of going independent after leaving a billion-dollar self-built business in the wirehouse channel. Reflecting on his more than 28 years in wealth management, Steve notes that while he had success and partners who supported his growth, ultimately the wirehouse model had limitations. His decision to go independent in 2021 was based largely on his interest in deepening client relationships and optimizing his business model.


In today’s episode, RFG President Shannon Spotswood and Steve discuss what it’s like to create a more fulfilled, intentional, and rewarding career as an independent advisory owner. It’s never easy to leave a successful business that has taken years to build. Steve reflects upon his prior illusion of freedom, his passion for his clients, and how “each win matters.”


Through his journey to independence, Steve acknowledges improved family connections and deeper intentionality in everything he does. Instead of putting in face time at the office, his focus is now on the things that truly matter personally and professionally. One of the most important mindset shifts for Steve is that he now holds himself accountable, rather than allowing outside influences to impact where and how he invests his time throughout the day.


Earlier growth under the wirehouse model was very different than the way independent advisors grow their clientele. “Passion Prospecting” – coined by Shannon – is something that newly independent advisors often struggle with – not because they don’t want to explore it, but because it is so different than what they are used to doing. Now, Steve can lead with what he enjoys doing while seeking others who also share those interests. There is almost zero challenge in attracting the right clients when he hosts events that surround those activities. He has experienced incredible growth from this strategy. Steve recommends advisors make an effort to know where every client likes to eat out, what they like to do in their spare time, and make an effort to connect with them outside of the office. Building a true relationship is key to earning trust and delivering advice.


In conclusion, Steve shares his advice for both younger and more seasoned advisors. For experienced advisors like himself, Steve shares that it’s easy to keep your blinders on. It may feel like you have a multitude of resources at your disposal, but you should look beyond your existing toolset for other places that may offer better technology, deeper resources and more accessible support. The big custodial name on client statements matters a lot less to clients than advisors think. In fact, all of his clients came with him when he announced his transition, and that is a reflection that relationships and quality service are the two most important catalysts for client retention.


As for his advice for younger advisors considering independence, he shares that it really is true that most independent advisors say, “I should have done this sooner.”


Join the conversation to hear all about:


  • Why independence after building a multi-billion wirehouse practice
  • Time management as an independent advisor
  • Impact of the transition on family
  • Building enterprise value on your personal balance sheet
  • Creating the ideal base of operations
  • Attracting the right clientele
  • Refining your story as an independent advisor
  • Advice for seasoned advisors considering independence
  • Tackling fears in going independent
  • Economic upside of going independent

Referenced Materials:



Content here is for illustrative purposes and general information only. It is not legal, tax, or individualized financial advice; nor is it a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any specific security, or engage in any specific trading strategy.


Information here may be provided, in part, by third-party sources. These sources are generally deemed to be reliable; however, neither our guest nor RFG Advisory guarantee the accuracy of third-party sources.


The views expressed here are those of our guest. They do not necessarily represent those of RFG Advisory, its employees, or its clients. This commentary should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by RFG Advisory, or performance returns of any client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice.


Securities offered by Registered Representatives of Private Client Services. Member FINRA / SIPC. Advisory services offered by Investment Advisory Representatives of RFG Advisory, LLC (“RFG Advisory or “RFG”), a registered investment advisor. Private Client Services and RFG Advisory are unaffiliated entities. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where RFG Advisory and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advisory services may be rendered by RFG Advisory unless a client agreement is in place.


RFG Advisory is an SEC-registered investment adviser. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of RFG by the Commission, nor does it indicate that RFG or any associated investment advisory representative has attained a particular level of skill or ability.


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