What it means to be
an independent business owner

My greatest sense of independence has come from the ability to operate my business on my own terms—serving my clients in ways that will help them toward achieving their unique financial goals.

Each summer, as July 4th approaches, I reflect on what Independence Day means to me. First and foremost are the feelings of patriotism and appreciation for those who have protected our independence as Americans. Second, comes a personal retrospective as I think about my own life and my personal and professional independence.

There are many routes financial services professionals can take to navigate their way to career success. Being able to choose my own course was one of the things that drew me to the industry. Choice matters when it comes to affiliating your business and for me, independence was paramount.

Why independence matters

 There are many different affiliation models from which a financial advisory firm can choose, all with advantages and disadvantages. For me, the best option gives me the autonomy to drive my business as I see fit, while still receiving support when I need it. Here are a few reasons why independence should matter—for your business and your clients:

All about choice

I founded my own financial advisory firm so that I can run the organization to help meet the needs of my clients. I am in control of the day-to-day operations and have implemented best practices to ensure that my staff can be successful in our goal to provide first-class client service. To do so, we can offer fee-based or commission based products to our customers, depending on how they want to structure their service.

My clients benefit from my ability to choose from many different investment strategies, without being tied down to specific products. As an independent advisor, I can offer a wide array of product options developed to meet all of today’s regulatory requirements, without a burden on my practice. My ability to carefully select products to serve the best interests of each client is the cornerstone of my value proposition to them. It enables me to look each individual in the eye and assure them that I am working to help them toward achieving their goals.

Branding: Not one-size-fits-all

Cadillacs and Corvettes elicit different responses on the road. While they are both amazing automobiles, people view their brands differently. In much the same way, financial advisory firms benefit when they can market themselves in a manner that suits their needs and separates themselves from competitors or industry stigmas.

This customization also means preparation of the firm’s own marketing and advertising campaigns, including participation in social media, sponsorship of local events, or support of local charities. Even the technology and operating systems are chosen by registered firm.

Independent but not alone

Being independent is great, but sometimes you need support in running your practice. Cybersecurity, compliance, technology, back-office support—all of these would be difficult for financial advisors to maintain on their own as small business owners. Being able to leverage the scale, resources and tools of a partner firm can make all the difference in how your business is run.

Although many people travel the same roads in their financial services career, everyone’s journey is unique—which is part of what makes choosing to take an independent path so gratifying. While it is inherently risky to diverge from an established course, the freedom that comes with designing your own map to career success is living the “American dream.” The fact that I am able to help my clients toward reaching their independent goals and dreams as I go is extraordinary.

About the Author

Mark J. Rychel

Mark J. Rychel, CFP®

Mark J. Rychel, CFP®, a founding partner of BCR Financial Services, LLC, in Pittsburgh, PA. For over 20 years, Rychel has helped clients to understand their specific personal goals and desires and designed unique financial plans tailored to their needs.  Rychel holds the professional  CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional certification (CFP®), insurance licenses and FINRA series 4, 7, 24, 63, and 65 registrations. 


Mark Rychel is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Securities Corp a broker-dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. BCR Financial Services, LLC, is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Securities Corp.