In the wealth management industry, the term “Independence” gets thrown around a lot. For the vast majority of independent advisors, it just means they have switched from a W2 to a 1099 with the firm they are affiliated with. While in those situations the advisors do “own” the client relationships and the clients would likely follow them if they switched firms, they are not the owners of their business. For those that want to truly own their businesses as well as own their client relationships, the only option is to create a Registered Investment Advisory (an “RIA”) firm. However, such step is not for every advisor and there are significant pros and cons to creating your own RIA and becoming truly independent.