The fall of some of the largest, most respected names on Wall Street has left many financial industry workers without jobs, consumers feeling betrayed, Congress scrambling for a plan, and entrepreneurs wondering where their next infusions of cash might come from. While the country’s economic woes appear vast, the three “r”s of the recovery might boil down to job recruiting, money raising, and the future of financial regulation.
“With the world financial community in serious retreat, it might seem improbable to find a financial institution that is actively and aggressively recruiting,” says Mark “Goldie” Goldwasser, CEO of National Holdings Corporation, a full service investment banking company operating through its wholly owned broker dealer and advisory subsidiaries. “Despite all the economic gloom and doom we’ve been hearing about in the financial sector, however, our message remains loud and clear: we’re hiring!”
National Holdings is weathering the financial storm and locating great talent while doing so. Founded sixty years ago, National Holdings’ group of companies manages over seven hundred registered reps in approximately 100 offices throughout the U.S. and abroad. National also provides CNBC’s daily “Fair Value Report,” and offers access to over fourteen thousand mutual funds, independent money manager accounts, best of breed hedge fund managers, private equity and venture capital funds, and real estate limited partnerships.
Goldwasser believes that the independent brokerage model could eventually come to rival the dominance of investment banks and major brokerage houses.
“Most independent broker-dealers are small enough to give clients the individualized attention that they deserve, but have the resources necessary to provide products and services competitive with the very largest firms,” Goldwasser explains. “In return for covering their own direct operating overhead, these independent contractors receive a higher payout. At the end of the day, rather than the prestige that comes from having a large financial institution handling their account, what clients really want is someone that is honest and will help them invest wisely with full transparency.”
Meanwhile, Leonard J. Sokolow, president of National Holdings Corporation and a serial entrepreneur himself, suggests that now might be just the right time for people to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit. “The American economy is an engine that breeds entrepreneurs,” Sokolow says, “however, some might worry that finding funding might be difficult during tough economic times. Fortunately, there are resources available to help small businesses accomplish their goals and continue to grow.”
Sokolow, who is also a co-founder of vFinance Investments, Inc., a principal operating subsidiary of National Holdings that provides brokerage, trading, and investment banking services, suggests some practical advice for burgeoning entrepreneurs facing a challenging economic climate, including: considering what sectors are thriving at present and asking oneself if one’s business venture captures the spirit of the times; holding an initial round of friend and family financing; investigating the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan program; accessing federal funding opportunities that are beginning to proliferate; creating a detailed, well-defined, and realistic business plan with a strong advisory board/board of directors; and utilizing free resources, including www.vFinance.com, recognized as one of the primary online connection points between serious-minded entrepreneurs and the capital industry.
“Regardless of the challenges in the economic environment,” says Sokolow, “with a good idea, dogged determination, the right resources, and qualified advisors, it is always the time to thrive.”
The final piece of the recessionary puzzle is the future of securities regulation, the financial exchange laws that are expected to undergo a seismic realignment. “In light of everything we’ve seen happen over the last twelve months, we can expect a genuine overhaul of securities regulation,” says Goldwasser. “Historically, securities laws haven’t changed significantly since the 1930s. Now they will be rewritten, and the industry is facing a regulatory perfect storm.” Goldwasser sees the regulatory debates playing out over the next two years and suggests that “similar, across-the-board regulation will help level the playing field for everyone: IRAs, hedge funds, broker-dealers, insurers.”
Goldwasser also believes that the independent broker model is particularly well-suited for the coming paradigm shift. “Generally, larger institutions find it more difficult to institute sweeping changes,” says Goldwasser. “The bigger the organization, the thicker the bureaucracy and the more ingrained the culture of the institution. Independent professionals, with smaller offices, can be more nimble and adopt best practices and enhanced processes, which will serve them now and in the future.”