As a nationally recognized recruiter and consultant to financial advisors, Mindy Diamond has unmatched experience in introducing advisors to the independent space—an option that has greatly expanded yet remains somewhat of a mystery to many advisors.
Her goal in this podcast for financial advisors is to dispel some myths, share some facts and help advisors get better educated on the model without any concern over confidentiality or obligation. She offers comparisons between different types of independent models from Independent Broker Dealers (IBD) to Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) and Hybrid RIAs, and much more.
Episodes include conversations with industry leaders and breakaway advisors who left the captive employee wealth management world for one where they could grow their financial advisory business in a way that aligned with their own goals. Be sure to subscribe and stay up to date.
Diamond offers additional information for advisors who are looking to increase their knowledge of the independent space, as well as traditional models for advisors in wealth management. Visit https://www.diamond-consultants.com/podcast-mindy-diamond-independence/
The Best of 2020: Top Advice from 10 Independent Business Owners
A culmination of the most relevant commentary on independence—from a year unlike any other.
In the wealth management world, there was plenty of good news to come out of 2020. For instance, many advisors have reported that it was one of their best years ever in terms of growth. And from the perspective of recruiting, advisor movement was the strongest ever.
Ultimately, advisors forged ahead with the intent of serving their clients and growing their businesses with the best of their abilities. And those who were motivated to find better ways to do so, chose to transition to options that offered them greater freedom, flexibility and control.
Because, despite the pandemic, as David Bahnsen of The Bahnsen Group shared, this period of time was when the most successful advisors were “living out their philosophy”—and exercising the freedom and control that being independent offers them. Or as David put it, “to be able to do everything exponentially,” with enhanced ability to market and brand themselves, create original content, and demonstrate competence and thought-leadership.
And it’s commentary like this that David shared on our show that we celebrate – advice from the top 10 independent business owners featured in the past year – in a special episode representing the 100th in our podcast series.
It’s a distillation of our conversations, demonstrating common threads weaved throughout—related themes and nuggets of wisdom that answer the threshold question: Why independence?
This hand-picked curation of top advice includes:
- The real benefits of independence when it comes to communication, marketing, customization, technology and client service—and ultimately the ability to offer conflict-free advice.
- Thoughts on wirehouse retire-in-place programs—and how these advisors found better solutions by going independent.
- The psychology behind “shrinking to grow”—and shifting from an “employee-advisor mindset” to a “fiduciary-entrepreneur mindset.”
- What the real value of independence is for clients—and why so many are actually “happy” to part with a big brand.
- Why an advisor would choose to turn down the big recruiting deal—and instead opt to play the long game.
- What it takes to compete against the big banks—and how the ability to “shop the Street” translates to better service for clients.
- The growth of supported independence models—and how these solve for an advisor’s desire for greater freedom and control when independence feels like “a bridge too far.”
- What it takes to build a business with the end in mind—and how to determine when or if it’s time to sell or bring on an investment partner.
- And, ultimately, how to shift your focus from “getting” to “giving”—a concept that helps deliver immense value.
The “Best of 2020” roster features:
David Bahnsen, Chief Investment Officer, Managing Partner at The Bahnsen Group
Melissa Bouchillon, Managing Partner at Sound View Wealth Advisors
Jeff Concepcion, Founder and CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners
Joseph Eschleman, President of Towerpoint Wealth, LLC
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Evans, Managing Partner at Evans May Wealth
Jason Fertitta, President/Partner at Americana Partners
Justin Berman, Principal and CEO at Berman Capital Advisors, LLC
Jon Kuttin, CEO of Kuttin Wealth Management
Lori Siegel, Founding Partner, Centrix Wealth Partners
Lee Korn, Financial Advisor, Principal at Opal Wealth Advisors
Plus, a special “bonus” message from Bob Burg, co-author of the bestseller Go-Giver series.
It’s a digestible download of independence from those who know it best—that is, those who are building successful independent businesses designed for the long-term. Whether you’re an employee advisor or independent, it’s an episode that offers valuable takeaways and actionable advice.
The Limitations of Building a Billion-Dollar “Boutique Firm” within a Wirehouse: A UBS Breakaway Story
A conversation with Terry Cook, CFP®, CIMA, Managing Partner of Parcion Private Wealth.
We often talk about how advisors’ mindsets have changed, having evolved to wanting more from their firms. And likewise, clients, too, are looking for more from their advisors. And as such, many advisors – particularly those managing high net worth clients – are coming to realize that the wirehouses cannot answer these changing demands. That is, managing to the lowest common denominator imposes limitations on advisors when it comes to customizing client service.
For example, just over a year ago, Terry Cook was managing $1.3B in assets at UBS—a business he built over nearly 3 decades in the wirehouse world: 17 years at UBS and 9 years prior at Merrill.
As Terry tells it, their 13-member team operated much like a boutique multi-family office within the wirehouse, serving a small number of clients; primarily affluent, multi-generational business owners.
But as time went on, he found their clients wanted more from them beyond investment management—from booking travel to advising on health care choices. All things, as he puts it, “that would give any wirehouse heartburn” should you even consider it.
In fact, when Terry submitted a presentation for a group of high net worth prospects, it was returned red-lined—with many items that the wirehouse deemed “not the advisor’s role.”
As a self-proclaimed planner and problem solver, Terry realized that firms like UBS simply cannot support a business like his. Ultimately, to meet the additional lifestyle management demands of his clients, be more nimble and offer a broader suite of services, he’d need to make a change.
So in October of 2019, Terry, partner Kyle Caouette and their team left UBS and launched independent RIA firm Parcion Private Wealth in Bellevue, Washington.
In this episode, Terry talks candidly about the journey – both as a wirehouse advisor and now as a business owner – including:
- What he and his team needed to consider in the decision to make the leap—and why independence proved to be the better option over another wirehouse.
- What he found to be limitations in how he served his clients—and what specific “additional resources” and services fell well outside the margins of what was allowable at UBS.
- How the notion of the “commoditization” of investment management impacted their decision to build an independent firm—and how being “untethered” allows them to better meet their clients’ needs.
- How compensation is different as an independent firm—and how the ability to equitize his staff improves everyone’s opportunity to succeed.
For Terry, making the leap was “like taking the ankle weights off” in terms of how he can serve his clients and grow his business. Now, untethered, he and the team at Parcion could specifically meet their clients’ demands and help them in the areas that they needed the most—which fulfills the responsibility of being a true fiduciary.
It's a great conversation that explores the true potential of an independent firm when it comes to servicing clients—a candid eye-opener for captive and independent advisors alike.
For more information and additional resources, visit: https://www.diamond-consultants.com/the-limitations-of-building-a-billion-dollar-boutique-firm-within-a-wirehouse-a-ubs-breakaway-story/
A Special Year-End Industry Update: 10 Ways That 2020 Will Reshape Wealth Management in 2021
With the end of 2020 in sight, Mindy Diamond takes her annual look back—at the year no one could have ever predicted.
In this episode, Mindy shares that despite the pandemic and the disruption to everyone’s lives, there was plenty of good news for the wealth management industry, most notably:
- Many advisors report having the best years of their careers.
- Advisor movement has been incredibly robust, with year-end projections estimating 9% of all advisors will change firms or models in 2020—the highest in the past decade.
What contributed to this extraordinary growth and movement?
Mindy explores the key factors, including:
- How the wirehouses aggressively got back in the recruiting game—and are working hard to make up for market share lost in the past 5 years.
- The "work from home" mandate—and how it gave advisors time for self-reflection and the privacy to evaluate other options without interruption.
- The new lens through which advisors viewed their business lives—and how it opened their eyes to the fact that they desire freedom of choice more than anything.
- What’s changed for senior advisors—and how the next gen is stepping up in ways like never before.
- How advisors have come to view their businesses as businesses—and are looking to build robust enterprises that have real value at the end of the day.
- How the landscape has further evolved—revealing more turnkey models and capital options for those looking to monetize and de-risk a move.
Mindy digs deep into 2020 to reveal 10 trends that have already emerged and are destined to reshape 2021 in ways like never before—with a new generation of “change-makers” leading the charge.
It’s an episode for all advisors and independent business owners—one that will help define practices and alter the industry as we know it.
For more information plus links to related resources, visit: https://www.diamond-consultants.com/special-year-end-industry-update-10-ways-that-2020-will-reshape-wealth-management-in-2021/
Advisor-Turned-CEO: How a $2.4B Ameriprise Firm Cracked the Growth Code
A conversation with Jon Kuttin, CEO of Kuttin Wealth Management, and Louis Diamond.
Building a successful business is no easy feat—especially if you are the one leading the charge, as well as working on the day-to-day tasks to move the ball forward.
The guest on this episode was once in that same position.
Jon Kuttin, CEO of Kuttin Wealth Management, was a junior at SUNY when he entered the financial services industry as an intern with IDS—the precursor to Ameriprise Financial.
And by the time he graduated, he had two licenses completed.
His early success – which he credits to two advisors who served as his mentors and a lot of hard work – led him to get involved in mentoring others at Ameriprise.
26 years later, Jon’s 60-person independent Ameriprise firm manages $2.4B in assets, derived primarily by organic means through an alliance with a CPA—which developed into a game-changing referral engine.
So it comes as no surprise that Jon has many industry accolades under his belt, including Barron’s Top 100 Advisors List, Barron’s Hall of Fame Advisor and Forbes Best in State, as well as being named the top Producing Advisor on the Ameriprise platform.
Yet accolades aside, Jon realized that if he wanted to build a business designed for growth, he needed to change his focus from “working in the business” to “working on it.” So, he transitioned his role from client-facing advisor to CEO—a change that he felt was imperative to take the business to the next level.
You might say that Jon “cracked the code on growth,” developing processes designed to continuously create scale. And now he has his sights set on strategic recruiting and acquisition practices to drive the firm forward and ultimately build a lasting legacy.
As Jon puts it, the firm is now “fishing with a net instead of a pole”—using focused growth strategies that he also shares with other advisors through his consulting practice.
In this episode, he and Louis Diamond get under the hood on these topics and more, including:
What it took to build out a $2.4B firm on the Ameriprise Financial platform—and how that process or potential might compare to another firm or model.
What it takes to build a successful referral engine—and how to evolve it over time to drive even greater levels of organic growth.
How he came to the realization that he needed to become a full-time CEO for the firm—and the steps he took to transition from the advisor role.
How he’d counsel a younger advisor with aspirations to grow a $1B+ practice—and the threshold questions advisors should ask themselves when planning for growth.
Plus, Jon shares an inside perspective on independence, the evolution of Ameriprise over the years, and much more.
It’s an in-depth conversation with plenty of actionable information—relevant to any advisor whether you’re working at a wirehouse or are an independent business owner.
For more on this episode plus related links and resources, visit: https://www.diamond-consultants.com/advisor-turned-ceo-ameriprise-firm-cracked-the-growth-code/
Betting on the Long-Term: Former Merrill Resident Director Shares Why Her $1B Team Broke Away
A conversation with former Merrill RD Melissa Bouchillon, CFP®, Managing Partner, Sound View Wealth Advisors.
There’s no doubt that the wirehouses provide a solid foundation for building a wealth management business. In fact, a recent Fidelity study shows that these massive firms employ some of the industry’s most productive advisors.
Yet, for all that the big brokerages offer, advisors are still feeling limited in their ability to serve their clients and grow their businesses as they see fit.
And regardless of the ties that bind them, movement out of the space continues to rise.
For example, the guest on this episode was a producing manager at Merrill Lynch, running their office in Savannah, Georgia. As Resident Director and Market Leader, one of Melissa Bouchillon’s roles was to “encourage advisors” to sell bank products to their clients.
Yet over time, her marching orders from the bank started to feel manipulative—the weight of which she could no longer take.
In a conversation with her husband Kelly, who was part of the team, they came to the following conclusion: “If we’re going to do this for the next 20 years, it can’t be here at Merrill.”
So, in March of 2018, they made the leap to independence, launching Sound View Wealth Advisors in Savannah.
But it wasn’t all that simple: They had one member of their team in Merrill’s retire-in-place program CTP and would need cash upfront to repay the firm—as well as leave some assets behind.
In this episode, Melissa discusses that decision in-depth, plus:
- What changed at Merrill—and how those pushes led them to acknowledge the pulls towards independence.
- How they were able to compensate a member of their team who recently signed on to CTP—and how “honoring their commitments” to this advisor drove their decision-making process.
- Why they chose to partner with Focus Financial—and the benefits of supported independence for those considering the leap.
- How a producing manager or Resident Director can remain loyal to the firm—and still embark upon exploration of other options.
And ultimately, why they made a conscious decision to leave $150mm of their $1B in assets behind—essentially shrinking with the intent to grow. And grow they did, projecting to be at $950mm by the end of 2020.
Melissa shared so many words of wisdom, but most compelling was her thoughts about the psychological shift required to be a successful independent business owner: It’s about going from the mindset of an advisor who is focused on asset growth to the mindset of a fiduciary—which is all about how to serve clients best.
Creating Sustainable Scale: How CAPTRUST’s Unique Model Drives Enormous Growth and a $1B+ Valuation
A conversation with Rush Benton, Senior Director, Strategic Growth of CAPTRUST and Louis Diamond.
The ability to serve clients without conflict and with complete objectivity is typically the reason many advisors choose to build their own independent firms. Because as an RIA, advisors can design and grow their practices as they see fit—liberated from the corporate agenda that is part of the fabric of brokerage firms.
And it is through this “liberation” that we’ve seen the growth of several massive RIA firms making headlines through smart acquisition practices alongside solid organic growth.
One such firm, CAPTRUST, launched back in 1997 when Fielding Miller and David Perkins broke away from the regional brokerage firm Interstate/Johnson Lane to pursue an “innovative fee-based advisory approach” and fulfill their commitment to ensuring complete objectivity in all client interactions.
It was a journey they started with just $2.5mm in revenue and client assets under advisement of $400mm.
2 years later, assets grew to $1B.
And now, just over 2 decades later, the firm reports over $400B in assets under advisement.
It’s a success story that revolves around a firm’s determination to build upon the commitment and vision of its founders, as Rush Benton, CAPTRUST’s Senior Director of Strategic Growth, describes it.
He joined the firm back in 2013 after serving as co-founder and CEO of WealthTrust, one of the first consolidators of RIAs. Today, Rush leads the company’s wealth management acquisition efforts, in search of what he describes as “durable firms” looking to be acquired.
So when it comes to growth through acquisition, Rush knows his stuff. In this episode, he and Louis Diamond have a spirited conversation, including:
- The backstory to the firm’s success—and how the founder’s vision guided their growth from $400mm in AUA to $400B in just two decades.
- What CAPTRUST does to foster growth, garnering a $1.25B valuation—and even more specifically, how the firm manages this growth through what Rush calls “sustainable scale.”
- Their methodology of pursuing scale in two distinct yet interconnected market segments—and how this impacts their growth trajectory, as well as that of advisors under their umbrella.
- The challenges, headwinds and opportunities facing financial advisors—and specific issues facing the 401k consulting market that is leading to M&A activity.
- The decision to take on a minority investor—and how a cash inflow from GTCR will influence their M&A strategy.
Fielding and David started their journey with the goal of “sitting on the same side of the table as the client and acting as a real fiduciary.” And the result of building upon this vision has led to the creation of one of the industry’s largest independent firms.
It’s firms like CAPTRUST that have demonstrated the true potential of the independent space—and provide many learning experiences for both independent firm owners looking to gain scale and prospective breakaways who have their sights set on building an enterprise.
For additional tools and resources, visit the episode page at https://www.diamond-consultants.com/creating-sustainable-scale-how-captrusts-unique-model-drives-enormous-growth-and-a-1b-valuation/
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Nice job Mindy and Rob. Great insights. Congratulations on all you have and will achieve.