Our practice was founded in March of 1994, when Jim Baird was hired by Pennsylvania Merchant Group (PMG), a investment banking boutique, to start and grow a Wealth Management department for the firm. Previously, Jim had spent his first 15 years in the business employed on Wall Street, and was managing a large retail brokerage office for Prudential Securities (now owned by Wachovia) just prior to starting our business. Jim was joined by Pat House and Carol Gangewer from his old office. The team left Prudential and stepped into the independent market in order to distance our practice from many of the conflicts of interest that they had observed over the years while working at four different major Wall Street firms.
After seven years at PMG, the firm was bought out by a large, multi-national investment company. The new owners wanted to build proprietary investment vehicles in order that our Wealth Management clients would be more profitable business for the firm. While that is absolutely true, it portrays a value proposition that profit maximization is more important than doing what is right for our clients and is the antithesis of our belief system. Our team had grown to seven individuals during our time at PMG and we all left shortly thereafter and moved our practice to another independent investment banking boutique, Emerging Growth Equities. Here we became known as EGE Advisors.
After seven years at EGE, the practice had quadrupled in revenue and grown to fourteen people. Despite a good relationship with the owners at EGE, our team decided that we needed to be completely independent to fully assure the long term viability and values of our practice. Effective December, 2008 we entered into an agreement with EGE to buy out our practice and our new firm, Compass Ion Advisors, LLC was founded. A new name in a new location with the same team and the same commitment to our clients.
How an advisor gets compensated really matters
If you ever want to know if your advisory firm really cares about you as a client, start an in-depth discussion with them about how they get paid. The launch of our new firm represents the third time in the last fifteen years where our advisors changed companies and had an opportunity to go to one of the big Wall Street firms where they could have gotten paid millions of dollars in the form of recruiting bonuses.
Independence distinguishes our process in three very important ways:
- No proprietary products or services: we do not create or manufacture any vehicles internally. Firms that do this often want to “push” their own solutions as they are more profitable for that company.
- Almost unlimited flexibility in accessing investment, insurance and other solutions: we also are able to utilize an extremely broad array of tools to help meet our client needs. Larger Wall Street firms have historically restricted their sales forces to a very narrow set of these vehicles.
- Our compensation is aligned with your interests: for the last twenty years, we have done very little commission-based business as it creates many conflicts of interest between a client and an advisor. Instead, we get paid just like mutual fund and money managers have been compensated for decades: by asset-based fees. By charging each client a fee that is a percentage of the assets we are managing for them, we accomplish the following;
- We have no incentive to “churn” or actively trade client accounts since they do not get charged commissions, and since we do not receive any compensation from their trading;
- Our only financial incentive is to do an effective job of managing our clients’ portfolios and retaining their business. The better job we do of growing their assets, the more we are rewarded as well.
- We can be completely neutral in selecting among the thousands of investment choices we have for our clients since we do not get paid different amounts for recommending different solutions as often happens in a commission-based compensation structure.
- Unlike commission-based brokers, who need to keep “selling” investments to their clients and changing their portfolios around, we are rewarded very differently. Instead, we have an enormous incentive to do ongoing, intensive investment research in order to maximize the performance of our clients’ portfolios, and hence, our own compensation.
If you are new to our firm and are in the process of considering various financial service firms, please contact us for an introduction that will give a much better look into who we really are and how we serve families and individuals like you.