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The Model FA

Mar 9, 2021

Brad Wales on Transitioning to the RIA Model


Brad Wales is the Founder of Transition To RIA, a consulting firm focused exclusively on helping financial advisors transition and adopt the RIA model. He helps advisors understand the intricacies of RIA - from understanding the “how” and “why” to transitioning their practice successfully. With nearly two decades of industry experience, including direct RIA-related roles in compliance, finance, and business development, Brad has amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help financial advisors learn how to benefit from and implement the RIA model. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of West Florida and has served well-known financial advisory firms throughout the Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida regions.


Brad joins me today to share why he decided to transition his career from working in the corporate world to launching his own consulting firm. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of transitioning to the RIA model, how his company helps advisors smoothly transition, and why the RIA model may not be suitable for all financial advisors. We discuss the importance of leaning into your strengths and understanding your weaknesses before deciding which RIA path you want to take. We discuss the legal challenges many advisors face when trying to transition their clients to an RIA model and why some of your current clients may not make the transition with you. We also highlight the importance of shifting your mindset from working as a financial advisor to becoming a media company that happens to offer financial advisory services and how it can impact your success as an independent Registered Investment Advisor.


“You have the flexibility to choose, on your own, who you want to work with.” - Brad Wales


This week on The Model FA Podcast:


  • What inspired Brad to pivot his career to become an entrepreneur 
  • Why many financial advisors decide to transition to the RIA model
  • How Brad’s company helps advisors make the transition to RIA
  • Why the RIA model may not be suitable for everyone
  • The three primary paths many advisors take when transitioning into the RIA model
  • Understanding your strengths and weaknesses before deciding to transition your practice
  • Fee-only vs. fee-based models and determining which model is right for you
  • Setting realistic expectations regarding the number of clients that will be willing to move to the RIA model with you
  • Legal challenges often involved in transitioning clients to the RIA model and the process for working through most of these challenges
  • Identifying the vendors your RIA practice should partner with
  • Shifting your mindset to be successful
  • Brad’s favorite business-related books and how they impacted his life
  • Common mistakes many advisors make when transitioning to the RIA model


Resources Mentioned:



Our Favorite Quotes:


  • “The first couple ‘innings of the game’ is simply education.” - Brad Wales
  • “It’s not a ‘firm problem,’ it’s a structural problem. As long as you’re at a firm with thousands of advisors, you start falling into some of these traps of where you get lumped in and it is going to confine you.” - Brad Wales


Connect with Brad Wales:




About the Model FA Podcast


The Model FA podcast is a show for fiduciary financial advisors. In each episode, our host David DeCelle sits down with industry experts, strategic thinkers, and advisors to explore what it takes  to build a successful practice — and have an abundant life in the process. We believe in continuous learning, tactical advice, and strategies that work — no “gotchas” or BS. Join us to hear stories from successful financial advisors, get actionable ideas from experts, and re-discover your drive to build the practice of your dreams. 


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Our Team:

President of Model FA, David DeCelle


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