Ric Edelman

Ric Edelman

Founder and executive chairman, Edelman Financial Services

Ric Edelman entered the industry as a financial journalist, and throughout the decades the founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services has maintained his reporter’s sensibility.

While covering the industry, Mr. Edelman was unimpressed with the advice being given, he said. Deciding he and his wife could do better, they started their own firm in 1986. Since then, he has become a highly popular and influential host of his own radio and television shows, as well as a best-selling author and educator with more than one million copies of his books in print.

He says his thinking has been guided by his journalistic training.

“In journalism, there are two facets,” Mr. Edelman, 58, said. “One is ‘Ask why’ and two is ‘Answer the question in plain English.’”

He has never stopped asking why and challenging the status quo with new ideas and new products.

Examples of Mr. Edelman’s innovative thinking — often branded unconventional — are his stances against paying off mortgages early and against using municipal bonds for long-term savers, and for the early adoption of exchange-traded funds. He has also designed his own unique product, the RIC-E trust, a retirement planning tool for newborns that cannot be touched for 65 years.

Mr. Edelman sees his impact on the industry in the shift in licensing from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. to the Securities and Exchange Commission, with more advisers supporting the fiduciary standard.

He continues to be outspoken and does not care what Wall Street or the media think.

“They’re not relevant,” he said. “The only thing that matters is clients. We’re trying to spread a message across all America to improve people’s financial lives.”

– Deborah Nason