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Knowledge Bank

Financial industry news and events for RIAs.

2 min read

How an Easter Basket Sparked Baldwin’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Jan 26, 2018 6:58:30 PM

Built by an advisor to reduce conflicts of interest and produce better outcomes for his own practice 20 years ago, this tested-in-the-trenches solution is now the solution of choice for hundreds of other advisors.

By: Robb Baldwin, Founder and CEO

My journey from financial advisor to Founder and CEO of TradePMR began more than 30 years ago. Like many, I started my career as an investment advisor with a reputable firm; I received top-notch training and a client list handed to me on day one. For 10 years, I was hitting my goals, expanding a solid client roster and learning the ins and outs of financial services. To me, this was picture of success.

About 10 years into my career, I won a mutual fund sales contest. The prize was an Easter basket filled with swag. But stuck in the back of the basket was an industry magazine. Written across the cover in bold was the cover story’s title: “How to Become an RIA.”

I was in the business of selling mutual funds, so I thought I had a decent idea of what a Registered Investment Advisor was, but what I really had was a bunch of second-hand stories. This particular magazine article really made me eager to learn more.

I spent months researching what it meant to be an RIA. After discovering that an RIA is a fiduciary, an entrepreneur, and really focused on relationships instead of sales goals, I immediately resigned and started the process of becoming an RIA.

During my path to independence, I was having trouble finding a custodian that championed the RIA business model. At the time, a custodian’s primary focus was their retail business. To me, this is a critical conflict: they pushed their retail business and quite frankly, placed lesser value on their relationships with the RIAs that worked with them.

After a few years, the custodian I was working with was sold to another custodian. The conversion was a nightmare. Accounts vanished, monies were transfer incorrectly – it took months to sort out the confusion and concern that this conversion had created.

That is when I decided to start TradePMR.

I knew advisors needed a partner that understood the ins and outs of running their own business. I wanted to build a business based on relationships and trust, and one that didn’t conflict or compete with the advisor’s goals.

As an entrepreneur, I thought this would be a slam-dunk. I thought I could attract multiple advisors quickly. For the next 5 to 7 years, I worked hard and gained traction. This is also when it became abundantly clear that advisors need reliable technology – so I quickly made the decision that we would be a firm that built, not bought, technology.

Today, almost 20 years later, we provide technology and custodial services to nearly 800 advisors across the country. This is my life’s work. I am extremely proud of the work we do every day on behalf of advisors for their clients.

I am excited to join advisors on their entrepreneurial journey. If you feel a tug reading my story, I invite you to contact us for a confidential conversation.


Take the first step toward professional freedom. Get the support, resources, platform, and technology you need to help you thrive as an independent RIA. For additional information, check out our RIA frequently asked questions.

Written by TradePMR