Innovator

Ed Slott

President and Founder, Ed Slott & Co.

Combine self-confidence, advanced expertise and doggedness with infectious enthusiasm and you have Ed Slott.

As a young CPA going out on his own, Mr. Slott wanted to find a way to differentiate himself. When new, complicated tax laws on IRAs were rolled out in 1986, he saw an opportunity.

“I saw it as an open lane — why don’t I get into something other professionals don’t know?” he said. “Everybody was thinking the other guy advised on IRA distributions, whether it was a CPA or an adviser or an attorney.”

He started out by doing local seminars “religiously,” never stopping. By the mid-90s, Mr. Slott was doing paid speaking engagements, with the addition, in succeeding years, of intensive two-day training programs, radio and TV shows, and members-only study groups with access to exclusive educational resources and opportunities.

What’s behind his success?

“IRAs — that’s where all the money in America is and is going,” he said.

His popularity grew as audience members would tell him, “I need a specialist like you.”  Then brokers started showing up and realized he was not competition and could in fact bring them business.

While he did tap into an important niche, Mr. Slott made his own luck.

“I was out there every which way consistently over time,” he said. “You have to have confidence in yourself.  It would’ve been easy to give up. You’ve got to kill it every day. I still do it.  It’s easy — you do this every day and in 20 years it happens overnight.”

— Deborah Nason