As I looked at the prospectus cover of the recent General Motors mega offering, I was struck by what was missing. Gone are the firms that for years were that fabric of our industry. In the last two decades major players such as E.F. Hutton, Prudential-Bache, Dean Witter, Paine Webber and Smith Barney have been victims of consolidation. Important boutiques like Bear Stearns, Lehman and Kidder Peabody are either gone or under new ownership. Regional firms, too numerous to mention, have been devoured by the surviving few.
Factoring our tendency to glorify the past, I constantly hear veteran advisors speak passionately about the "wonder days" working for one of the firms of yesteryear. They like sharing fond memories of exciting times when firms were smaller, had personalities and were lead by unique characters. It was an era when many of the cultures positioned advisors to be more like entrepreneurs than employees.
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