• Ric and Jean Edelman

An Unconventional Education: The Founding of Edelman Financial Services

In 1987, a young financial planner named Ric Edelman and his wife and business partner, Jean, who holds a degree in consumer economics, were convinced that the financial services industry was failing to serve the vast majority of Americans. This conviction led them to resign from the small brokerage firm in Virginia where they worked and open their own firm, where they could adhere to a new and higher set of principles.

The way Ric and Jean saw it, there was far too much salesmanship in the financial services industry and not enough education. Too many advisors catered only to the wealthy and consequently left the majority behind — namely, the bulk of America.

Ric and Jean vowed to fill this void by emphasizing face-to-face client interaction. Their firm would serve all investors — large and small — and be focused on core principles that would soon set an industry standard. This new approach included a focus on financial education, an academically proven investment management approach, and holistic long-term strategies that reflect each client’s goals and objectives.

At the time, it was customary for advisors to camouflage financial concepts with a confusing veneer of academic language and professional jargon. Edelman Financial Services would do the opposite. It would distill complex financial concepts into simple language, helping clients create financial plans to meet their goals.

Having encountered early in their marriage a fair share of bad advice from advisors — including an advisor who encouraged them to falsify a mortgage application — Ric and Jean knew there was a vast market of hardworking Americans out there needing help from someone willing to serve them.

Ric and Jean today operate the way they started: with education. In the beginning, that meant guest appearances on local radio and TV shows, with Ric volunteering his time to field questions from people across the Washington, D.C. metro area. Later, Ric would appear on such national television shows as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show. He would also host his own national radio and TV shows.

Along the way, Ric presented thousands of seminars and wrote seven books; his eighth is due out in 2014. All this contributed to Ric being three times ranked the #1 Independent Financial Advisor in the nation by Barron’s.*


*According to Barron’s, “The formula [used] to rank advisors has three major components: assets managed, revenue produced and quality of the advisor’s practice. Investment returns are not a component of the rankings because an advisor’s returns are dictated largely by each client’s risk tolerance. The quality-of-practice component includes an evaluation of each advisor’s regulatory record.” The rankings are based on the universe of applications submitted to Barron’s. The selection process begins with a nomination and application provided to Barron’s. Principals of Edelman Financial Services LLC self-nominated the firm and submitted quantitative and qualitative information to Barron’s as requested. Barron’s reviewed and considered this information, which resulted in the rankings on Aug. 27, 2012/Aug. 28, 2010/Aug. 31, 2009.