Last updated: 6 Jun 24 03:39:20 (UTC)

Exploring the AdvisorFirst Business Model

I’ve spent 34+ years developing part-time and full-time investment advisors at four broker/dealers which produced 16 $50k-earners, ten $100k-earners, and two $200k-earners, with an annual revenue of $1.6 million. My guiding philosophy has always been Advisor First.

I invite you to peruse this presentation and then, if you like, have a conversation with me. ―Michael


We Work With A Modern and Independent Firm

We use Innovation Partners, LLC (IP) for our B/D, RIA and Insurance Agency.

  • Independent firm started in 2007 by experienced leaders.
  • Registered in 49 States.
  • 2,500+ Agents.
  • $25+ billion of brokerage and RIA assets.
  • The Home Office team has over 200+ years of combined investment and insurance industry experience, including in-house CFAs, attorneys, actuaries and other professionals who have been CEOs of broker-dealers and other business lines.

*The AdvisorFirst Group is a non-official description of a network of Advisors and Branches within IP. We are a State-of-the-Art, Innovative, Independent, Cutting-Edge, Modern training organization that is built upon an Open-Architecture Platform. All descriptions regarding “systems” and “approaches” to the investment business are those of AFG and not necessarily IP.

The Opportunity

10,000 baby boomers retire daily, and their instincts tell them to do the wrong things. As an Advisor who keeps rendering top quality advice, this is one of the biggest opportunities of our lifetime.”

“Between 2018 and 2042, the baby boomers — the biggest, richest generation of Americans who ever walked the earth — are going to bequeath to their heirs some $61 trillion. This will be by far the largest, most compressed wealth transfer in history.”

Nick Murray, The Advisor to Advisors, bestselling author, lecturer and trainer. Source: NMI 2020-10

“A record 4.1 million Americans will turn 65 this year.”

That statistic comes from Jason Fichtner, chief economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He estimates that this surge will continue until 2027. This is one of the greatest times in American history to be a Retirement Income Specialist. The next few years should be a gold rush for you. AARP is calling this a “silver tsunami,” and you can benefit from it only if you are prepared. These 65-year-olds are wealthier and healthier than their parents and grandparents. They’re expected to live another twenty years, which means a long and fruitful relationship with their financial advisors.

Over half of Americans born today may live to 100.” ―Christensen, K, Doblhammer, Ageing populations: The challenges ahead (2009).

48% of retirees say they worry about outliving their money. While 72% claim they feel financially prepared for retirement, only 30% say they are very prepared. Nearly half say they often worry about outliving their money. ―Research published by Age Wave (“Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement”, 2022)

Our Top Eight Advantages

Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” ―Bruce Lee

“In the beginning I looked around and, not finding the automobile of my dreams, decided to build it myself.” ―Ferdinand Porsche

“We’ve built a different kind of business. All of our benefits and advantages have the underlying theme of Advisor first.”Michael

#1: We Do What’s Right

We always do what’s right for our clients.

As I’ve stated, our moniker is “Advisor First” but that refers putting our Advisors ahead of management and the company, and treating our reps as actual people not production-machines. As for our clients, we put them first. In fact, my client website is named

“We believe helping people with the largest financial issue of their life ― building a lasting retirement income ― is a cause that reaches beyond our personal pocketbooks.”Michael

#2: Low Barrier to Entry & Flexible Business Environment

  1. Get started for the price of a license. We have very low expenses: $185 per month which includes compliance monitoring, and securities/Advisory/life insurance errors & omissions insurance.
  2. No college degree, C.F.P., or previous experience required.
  3. Work part-time. Set your own hours, go your own pace, work your own schedule.
  4. Allow outside financial business (with approval). This means you can work in financial related businesses such as tax preparation, real estate, car, home, health insurance, etc.
  5. No production quotas or re-qualification.

Because our Advisors are able to work part-time with no minimum production requirements they don’t need to “close sales” to survive, and thus don’t look at their clients with “dollar signs” in their eyes. You can keep your job/career until you earn enough to go full-time (or don’t).

"Less than 20% of hires, who cost as much as $300,000 to fully train, survive past year two and three on a four-year training plan.” ―Andre Cappon, a securities industry consultant, quoted in, March 31 2011

#3: An Inch Wide and A Mile Deep

We believe in being “narrow and deep” in our expertise, instead of “broad and general”. Specifically, we are focused on Retirement Income Planning. (We do a lot more, of course.)

"More wood behind fewer arrows.” ―Larry Page, former CEO of Google, quoted July 2011

#4: We Have a Counter-Cultural Investment Philosophy

We do things differently, specifically our investment philosophy which is based upon the teachings of Nick Murray and Warren Buffet.

  1. Investing is a long-term proposition. Short-term investing is speculating.

  2. We believe in equities. Investing in the world’s great companies is the best way to counteract longevity-risk and inflation.

  3. The most important factor in investor success is the Advisor who correctly modifies the client’s investment behavior.

This book, by Nick Murray, best explains our counter-cultural investment philosophy. If this book resonates with you then you’ll love working with us ― if it doesn’t, then you won’t.

#5: Access to over 9,000 Competitive Products

By being an independent firm and not being tied to a particular product provider, we can be impartial and truly do what’s right for our clients.

Products/managers/vendors include: mutual funds, variable annuities, managed accounts, alternative investments, hedge funds, futures, private equity, REITs, opportunity funds, term life insurance from dozens of carriers, fixed products, living trusts, LLC + land trust, multi-custodian RIA platforms (Folio/Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, BNY Mellon/Pershing, US Bank, etc.), access to banks and Family Offices for high-net individuals, and much more.

“Independent agents aren’t tied to one company, so they can offer you more options, saving you time and money.Dave Ramsey

#6: Compensation & Ownership

Your income is based solely upon your work-ethic with no upper-limit.

  • 100% pass-through revenue from the product-provider with no haircuts. Trails are paid when the product-provider pays them. For example, Jackson pays trails monthly, but some firms will the trails and only pay them quarterly (we pay immediately).

  • Your upfront and trail/residual/fees payouts are the same. Some firms pay a lower commission on trails/residual/fees than they do on upfront revenue.

  • When your commission level increases, the residuals on your old accounts are also paid at the new higher level. Some firms forever lock-in your commission rate when the account was opened. You do not need to re-qualify to maintain your payout level.

  • We have a common-sense override system for those who wish to mentor other advisors.

There are many different ways of getting compensated: A-shares, B-shares, C-shares, F-shares, 12b-1 fees, Advisory fees, trails, renewals, residuals, additional contributions, etc. We offer them all. Below are just two examples:

Potential Up-Front income from one “sample” middle-class family.

Product Revenue Income (50%)*
Two IRAs ($14,000) $700 $350
Two 529-Plans ($20,000) $1,000 $500
Variable Annuity ($25,000) $1,750 $875
Two Term Life Policies $1,735 $867
Living Trust $950 $475
Total $6,135 $3,067

*The revenue numbers above are examples for illustrative purposes only. Results are not indicative of your performance; which may be greater or less than shown. Mutual funds payout is A-share. VA payout is 7%. The commission rate shown is for a “newer” part-timer.

Potential Residual income.

Assets Under Management Annual Revenue (0.75%) Annual Income (60%)*
$100,000 $750 $450
$1,000,000 $7,500 $4,500
$5,000,000 $37,500 $22,500
$10,000,000 $75,000 $45,000
$25,000,000 $187,500 $112,500

*The revenue numbers above are examples for illustrative purposes only. Results are not indicative of your performance; which may be greater or less than shown. The average revenue trail of 0.75% is based upon mutual funds 12b-1 fees, variable annuity trails and Advisory fees.

Another facet of residual income not shown here are automatic monthly investments. Every time a client makes an automatic deposit, you get paid.

"If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you’ll work until you die.”Warren Buffet, INC. Magazine, July 2018

Part of compensation is having ownership of your book-of-business. We have a simple, one-page ownership / succession planning agreement. In case of death or retirement you can pass your business on.

“Every family owned business should have a succession plan.” ―Deborah Jacobs, Estate Planning Smarts

Your client accounts are yours - you shouldn’t lose them if you leave. If you ever move to another firm, you can take your book-of-business without any hassle.

#7: T.E.R.S.H.

Our Group’s specialty is Training, Education, Resources, Support and Help – it’s what we do best. Our mentoring system is proven and documented ― as stated at the top of this article. We believe in “open-source” ideas ― we share and give everything we have in that it may be useful to others. We freely distribute resources and encourage others to modify and improve upon them. Our culture is one of camaraderie and helping each other – this is the wonderful “cross-pollination” philosophy of our Group. You’re never alone and we’ll always support you.

What we don’t do: No meetings on the weekends. No mandatory live webinars. No daily check-in calls, webinars etc. No rah-rah or pump-up events.

“We are light on hype and heavy on training.”Michael

A small sampling of our resources include:

  • We have a Telegram chatgroup called AdvisorFirst Dailies where I share 1 - 4 practical lessons every day. (Feel free to join - it’s free and anonymous.)
  • We have a private Telegram chatgroup for our Advisors where everyone can ask questions, answer questions and collaborate. No one is as smart as everyone.
  • Our AdvisorFirst Wiki contains over 34 years of experience in one place.
  • I send out a weekly Advisor Training Email Newsletter.
  • I host a weekly live webinar called Monday Kickoff Meeting.
  • Perhaps most importantly, I am always available as your personal mentor via chat, phone and webinar.

“We believe a competent Advisor is a confident Advisor, and a confident Advisor is a productive Advisor.”Michael

#8: Make A Complex Subject, Simple

Whether it’s products, strategies, procedures, or philosophies, we believe that simple is almost always best.

Just one example is we use DocuSign for 95% of our paperwork. This dramatically reduces our administrative burden. Also, our new business process includes an automated trade blotter (meaning we don’t have to do it) and our firm forwards the applications to investment companies for us. This is unusual in the industry.

Using Docusign e-signature also enables you to work remotely, including developing clients in other states without have to physically meet them (you must be licensed there, of course).

“Everything should be made a simple as possible, but not more so.” ―Albert Einstein

What the Experts Say

“A good advisor is never unemployed and always in demand. There is no income limit and you are your own boss.”Nick Murray, The Advisor to Advisors, bestselling author, lecturer and trainer.

7 Advantages of a Career in Financial Services.

  1. Nearly everyone is a potential client.
  2. You determine your income.
  3. There’s joy and satisfaction in helping others.
  4. Providing financial services is mentally stimulating.
  5. You are in charge of your time.
  6. You can live and work anywhere.
  7. There’s long-term potential.

Tom Hopkins, World’s #1 Sales Trainer

"If I were getting involved in direct selling I would go straight into financial services.”David Bach


Financial Advisor ranks #10 in Best Business Jobs and #39 in 100 Best Jobs


"Financial Advisors made a median salary of $95,390 in 2022. The best-paid 25% made $165,590 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $61,960.”US News & World Report, 2024

Next Steps

  1. I encourage you read through my client-oriented content first to better understand our philosophies.

  2. Peruse the AdvisorFirst public web site.

  3. Join our AdvisorFirst Dailies Telegram chatgroup and review the trainings daily.

  4. Sign-up for my weekly Advisor Training Email Newsletter.

  5. Contact me! Let’s have an open and candid conversation. If I sincerely think that working together is a good fit for both of us, I’ll invite you to do so. And, if you’d like, I’ll put a game-plan together to help you build the financial practice that you desire.

Michael Paulding Thomas

  • Celebrating 34 years in the industry
  • Investment Advisor • Securities Principal • Advisor Development
  • Series 6, 26, 63, 65, Life, Living Trusts

What You Can Expect From Me

Teach you the fundamentals: prospecting, selling, client case design, product knowledge. 40%
Provide wisdom, experience, business truths & philosophies, insights, ideas, direction, hints & tips. 40%
Encourage and support you. 20%
Give you leads, prospects, clients. 0%
Babysit you, beg you or bug you. 0%


Securities offered through Innovation Partners, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC