Why a $1B Wealth Team Jumped From a Prominent Bank and Started Their New Stage at AdvicePeriod

It is no secret that the ‘digital void’ between our clients’ digital expectations and the experience most wealth firms provide is large and growing rapidly. Here at F2 Strategy, we are extremely lucky to work with some of the best wealth firms in the country to address and bridge that gap. 

When it comes to innovation and how firms (and advisors) address this, very little qualifies as ‘surprising’.  But we were surprised when a team of former colleagues from a prominent bank-side Wealth Management group (not the wirehouse) departed for Steve Lockshin’s tech-forward AdvicePeriod. Unlike other wirehouse breakaways, their clients were owned by their former employer and would have no expectation that they would re-join them.

Moves like this do not happen frequently and may be a troubling sign for other tech-lagging, bank-based wealth firms in the country.

We recently sat down with Ryan Goldenhar and Jackie Lewis, both Partner Advisors at AdvicePeriod, the LA-based, tech-forward RIA.

Jackie (former Wealth Advisor) and Ryan (former Portfolio Manager) have worked together as a team in San Diego for twelve years prior to starting their new journey together. 

 We sat down with Jackie and Ryan to understand what drove their move, how they made the decision and how things are going since their departure.  Here’s a bit of that conversation.

 DOUG: Thank you both for talking to us about your recent move to AdvicePeriod. This is a really exciting transition for you both. Can you tell us a bit about your decision and what drove you to make this change?

JACKIE: Thank you, Doug. We are happy to share a bit about this process. Honestly, it took place over many, many years, kind of like the old ‘boiling a frog’ analogy. But over the the last year or two, we began to hear more and more from our clients that they wanted more efficiencies like digital on-boarding, paperless statements and more mobile-friendly access to data. At our previous firm, we were extremely handicapped by the antiquated processes and systems. It was out of frustration that we began looking at what others were offering from a technology perspective.

 RYAN: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. For me, there was one moment that really drove home the need to make a change: We were meeting a client in a conference room and I pulled up my laptop to review a client’s portfolio. The experience of showing a client the archaic green-screen, command line prompt systems was embarrassing. The client was shocked that their portfolio was being managed by such out-of-date technology, particularly in front of their millennial kids. I was really ashamed and felt that the quality of my advice was being discounted by the experience I was able to provide.  I wanted to be proud of the service I was giving to my clients and they expected and deserved more than I was going to be able to provide.

 DOUG: We can relate to that frustration and hear similar things from advisors across the country. Technology seems to have become one of the biggest deciding points when advisors start looking for a new home. When you were doing research on outside firms, what were some critical “must-haves” to make a move?

JACKIE: Ryan and I start our process with planning. This empowers the client to share their story with us; their hopes and dreams for their family. From there the investment strategies and everything else can fall into place. It was really important that we found a firm that valued a planning-first approach. We also knew we needed modern technology to meet our clients where they were (mobile, laptop, desktop, Skype, etc.). And by prioritizing technology, that not only allowed us to communicate with our clients efficiently, but also dramatically lowered fees associated with their accounts. We wanted to find a firm that could provide us the resources we needed to do even more for our families, and we knew we’d found it at AdvicePeriod.

RYAN: We also looked for a firm with the sophistication to handle the complex portfolio needs of our clients.  Most firms we looked at were too simplistic and offered only funds and ETFs for clients. Our clients generally have complex tax, estate and detailed asset-level issues. AdvicePeriod was the only one with both the tech and the sophistication. 

DOUG: This was a huge move for you both and for your careers and you’re clearly passionate about your clients and their needs. How did they respond to your departure?

RYAN: When we made the move official, we were sure to follow all the laws and adhered to our previous employer commitments. We also followed the CFA and CFP guidelines around client notification. We let them know that we had left and if they wanted to know, we would tell them where we went. We were very careful not to solicit business from any of them but in many cases, they reached out to us and expressed interest in knowing more about AdvicePeriod. Overall, it's an exciting time for us!

DOUG: Thank you both so much for sharing a bit about your journey and process leading up to this move. It’s inspiring to see the passion for your clients and their experience that drove you to make this bold move. We wish you luck with the new firm and new chapter in your careers!

Notes and Summary:

Jackie and Ryan’s move appears to have fallen into the cracks of our industry news stream. On the surface, this story seems relatively normal. We hear of far larger wirehouse advisors seeking more fertile ground to grow and monetize their books of business and ‘better tools’ is often quoted as a reason for departing. But this is a far different story: These were bank-side PMs with no hope of courting their clients with them and nobody ‘buying’ the book at eye-popping multiples. They walked away to build a better wealth advisory practice and saw the technology and client experience as a powerful advantage over their local peers.

We’ll continue to watch this story and others like it.  Their former firm is certainly not alone in the struggle to catch up with advisor and client expectations. There are some great initiatives going on there that are intended to eventually narrow the gap. However, as nimbler and tech-forward firms like AdvicePeriod gain popularity, they represent a new threat to the once tenacious hold banks had on their advisors and clients.

Liz Fritz