Build or Buy – or Both? Wealthstream’s Michael Goodman on building a $1BN RIA



The leaders of RIA firms have more options than ever before when evaluating growth opportunities in today’s market. M&A activity continues at an accelerated pace – and technology is allowing advisors to extend their services to an ever-increasing number of investors and clients.  

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Michael Goodman, founder and president of Wealthstream Advisors, about the keys to building a successful and consistently growing RIA. Wealthstream, which recently crossed the $1BN threshold, has grown through a mix of strategic acquisitions, marketing and business development. 

Specifically, Mark and Michael discuss:

  • How an independent RIA can compete with increasingly influential professional buyers in the M&A market
  • The keys to evaluating the right acquisition opportunities
  • Creating a repeatable, scalable, business development process
  • Acquiring vs. hiring talent to drive growth

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About Our Guest:

Michael Goodman is the founder and president of Wealthstream Advisors, Inc. As the company’s leader, he spearheads business development, designs and implements the firm’s strategic direction, and builds and manages client relationships. His passion is helping Wealthstream’s clients articulate their financial goals, then helping them find solutions and build plans in order to reach those goals.

After gaining experience in a variety of areas within the financial industry, Michael realized he could best serve clients in the way he wanted by striking out on his own. In 1996, he founded the independent practice that would eventually become Wealthstream Advisors. Michael’s goal then—as it remains today—is to embrace and deliver a “total financial strategy” for clients.


Merit’s Kay Lynn Mayhue: Building a National Wealth Management Firm



A small, but growing, number of influential independent advisory firms are on the fast track to becoming truly national wealth managers. M&A has been a tool that has allowed regional firms to expand their footprints, and Merit Financial Advisors is perhaps one of the industry’s best examples of how strategic M&A can be transformational – and ultimately lead to accelerated growth. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Kay Lynn Mayhue, CFP®, AEP®, RFC®, president of Merit Financial Advisors, about her firm’s rapid growth in recent years. 

Kay Lynn offers a look under the hood at some of Merit’s recent acquisitions, while also providing more detail on the strategic partnership the firm formed with Wealth Partners Capital Group and a group of private investors led by HGGC. 

Specifically, Mark and Kay Lynn discuss:

  • Merit’s growth trajectory and plan to reach $10B in AUM
  • How Merit evaluates acquisition targets and opportunities
  • How Merit’s organizational structure is evolving to facilitate future growth
  • Insights into Merit’s 2022 pipeline and future M&A strategy

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Connect With Kay Lynn:

About Our Guest:

Kay Lynn Mayhue, CFP®, AEP®, RFC® serves as President of Merit, which oversees $4 billion* in RIA and brokerage assets under management. A seasoned veteran of the financial services industry with more than 20 years of service under her belt, Kay Lynn now shares her wealth of experience and refined leadership skills with the partners and team at Merit. She primarily focuses on the implementation of company objectives to advance Merit’s mission and to promote growth and profitability as an organization. She also oversees operations to ensure production efficiency, top quality, exceptional service, and cost-effective management of resources. Driven by results, Kay Lynn works tirelessly to implement, direct, and evaluate the organization’s operational and fiscal function and performance. Her critical expertise in succession planning has paved the way for countless advisors to achieve the future of their dreams, and secured Merit’s legacy as a firm that will continue to serve others for generations to come.


Wipfli’s Jeff Pierce: Strategies for Driving Quality RIA Growth



While every RIA has its own unique approach to adding new clients and talent, the top-performing firms share some common strategic approaches to accelerating and driving organic and inorganic growth. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Jeff Pierce, CEO of Wipfli Financial Advisors, about the keys to his firm’s march to $5 billion in assets. Jeff specifically shares his thoughts on how his firm is beginning to use M&A to  acquire both clients and talent that will drive future growth. In addition, Mark and Jeff discuss:

  • Creating consistent, scalable growth
  • The current “talent wars” in the RIA market
  • 2022 M&A opportunities 
  • Opportunities to add planning and advice services for Wiplfi’s accounting clients

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About Our Guest:

When it comes to his client philosophy, Jeff says one key tenet has always been clear: Investing is about more than just money. It’s a guiding principle he reinforces across the business, emphasizing the importance of fostering client well-being beyond their financial lives. For Jeff, that means helping Wipfli Financial’s advisors create alignment between their clients’ resources, values and aspirations.


Grow by Design, Not by Default: Journey’s Penny Phillips



For the last decade, strong equity markets have powered a substantial amount of growth for tens of thousands of financial advisors. A handful of firms, however, have “cracked the code” and created blueprints for driving strategic growth for their firms that will extend well beyond this prolonged bull market. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Penny Phillips, co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth about the keys to creating sustainable growth and the evolution of options now available to independent advisors.

Specifically, Mark & Penny discuss:

  • Why Penny transitioned from her role as a successful consultant to launch an RIA
  • How M&A is reshaping and redefining the economics of advice 
  • How successful RIAs are approaching marketing, business development and client acquisition
  • Why not all growth is “good growth”

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Connect With Penny Phillips: 

About Our Guest:

Social, demographic, and technological changes are shifting the traditional financial services business model. Penny works to support financial advisors and institutions as they embrace change and discover new ways to thrive.

 


The Evolution of Independence: Snowden Lane’s Rob Mooney



As the independent and RIA channels have grown and become more influential, the challenges and opportunities aligned with running your own businesses have grown significantly in recent years. 

To better understand and assess the options that are now available to advisors who are looking to build their own businesses — or accelerate the growth of their existing business — Informa’s Mark Bruno and Snowden Lane’s Rob Mooney discussed major changes in the wealth management landscape. 

Specifically, in this episode of RIA Edge, Mark and Rob explore:

Mark and Rob discuss:

  • The primary drives of Snowden Lane’s growth over the last ten years
  • How to successfully navigate mergers and acquisitions, marketing, business development and client acquisition strategies
  • The emergence of new RIAs and mega-RIAs within the wealth management industry

Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Rob Mooney:

About Our Guest:

Rob co-founded Snowden Lane Partners in 2011, following a 22 year career in senior executive roles at Merrill Lynch. Snowden Lane is an independent, hybrid wealth advisory firm that operates at the highest standards of care and client focus. Today, Snowden Lane Partners is an internationally branded boutique, representing a culture that values integrity, transparency and putting the client first; along with state-of-the-art technology and innovative investment solutions.

Rob is Board Chair of Centurion, the oldest organization in the U.S. dedicated to freeing the wrongly convicted from prison. He is a founding Board member of the Christina Seix Academy, a residential school for underprivileged inner city children in Trenton, NJ. He is a former Board Chairman of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey . Rob and his wife reside in Princeton, NJ and have four children.


From Practice to Platform: Strategic RIA Growth With Stan Gregor



With more investors seeking out financial advice than ever before, RIAs are in a position to capitalize on an evolving mix of investing, planning and technology developments that can create long-term business growth.  

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Stan Gregor, CEO of Summit Financial. Stan shares details on Summit’s growth trajectory in recent years – while offering advice on how other firms can create scalable, repeatable growth strategies and transform their practices into truly unique advice platforms. 

Specifically, Mark and Stan discuss:

  • Balancing organic and inorganic growth strategies
  • How to identify the right types of acquisition, recruiting, and partnership opportunities
  • The difference between growth and “good growth”
  • The most valuable technology and communication lessons learned in the past 18 months

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Connect With Stan Gregor: 

About Stan Gregor:

As a senior executive with over 30 years of experience, I’ve operated in banking, private wealth management, investment management, fiduciary trust services, fixed income trading, investment banking, retirement services, insurance, financial planning and public finance. I’ve been involved in acquiring and integrating some of the largest and most complicated banking, wealth management, insurance, and capital markets businesses and cultures with a demonstrated track record of increasing productivity, profitability and shareholder value.

At Summit Financial, I apply these decades of financial services experience every day to ensure our firm continues to fully align client and advisor needs. Through SummitVantage, our fully integrated suite of advisor resources, we create legacy partnerships with leading advisors looking for full support–and full flexibility–to thrive in a crowded market.

 


Drivers of Strategic RIA Growth: Wealthcare’s Matt Regan



Every RIA firm is unique and has its own strategies and approaches for driving growth. But a handful of the fastest growing and most successful firms have one thing in common: They take an active approach to managing and thinking about growth on a daily basis – and ultimately how they can continue to improve the outcomes they are delivering to clients.  

That is just what Wealthcare Capital Management has done on it’s journey to becoming one of the top RIA firms in the industry. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Matt Regan, president of Wealthcare Capital Management, about the growth he has experienced within his company, and how Wealthcare was able to become one of the largest and fastest growing firms in the industry. 

Mark and Matt discuss:

  • The most efficient and effective drivers of RIA growth
  • Understanding and marketing to clearly defined client segments
  • How technology can be the backbone of an RIA firm
  • Major contributions Matt has seen to both organic and inorganic growth 
  • Matt’s views on the RIA industry in the next 3 to 5 years 

Resources:

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Connect With Matt Regan: 

About Matt Regan: Matt Regan serves as Wealthcare’s President. Most recently and prior to Wealthcare, Matt served as the Chief Operating Officer of Wescott Financial, a $2 billion RIA based in Philadelphia. With more than two decades in the financial services industry, Matt has been involved in a number of transformative business models and has remained focused on building world class organizations with a focus on the client. As a founding partner of WR Hambrecht+Co, Matt launched the retail brokerage offering and helped to design and launch the auction-based OpenIPO system. As a consultant to Vanguard, Matt was involved in the technology and business transformation that created the infrastructure that underlies the firm’s Personal Advisor Services offering. Matt is a graduate of the University of Toronto and resides outside Philadelphia with his wife and three children.


Marketing with Intent: Chequers’ Megan Gorman on how RIAs can build a brand and voice



Many in RIAs understand the importance of strong marketing strategies, but knowing what types of strategies – and then consistently executing – is a major challenge for a number of advisors. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Megan Gorman, founder and managing partner of Chequers Financial Management, about her approach to organic growth and how she has leveraged a range of marketing strategies to connect with clients and identify new client opportunities. Megan shares how to determine which strategies are right for you.

Specifically, Mark and Megan discuss:

  • The importance of strategic marketing to drive consist growth and relevance
  • How Morgan integrated her marketing strategies with her unique voice to connect with women investors and clients
  • The role social media can play in your marketing strategy
  • Balancing active marketing with client and management responsibilities

Resources:

Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Megan Gorman:

About Our Guest:

Megan is the founding partner of Chequers Financial Management, a fee-only planning firm that specializes in high net worth and ultra-high net worth families in San Francisco, California. Megan heads the firm’s family office services practice.

As well, Megan is a Senior Contributor for Forbes in personal finance and tax. She is also quoted regularly in the press as a tax and financial planning expert including such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She blogs at TheWealthIntersection.com, has appeared on numerous podcasts, and is a regular weekly commentator on The Money Tree Podcast.


After the Close: Building a Truly Integrated RIA Following a Merger or Acquisition



Mergers and acquisitions are becoming a more common way for larger RIAs to grow. But successfully managing a merger or acquisition after the deal closes is anything but a straight line — and many RIAs are looking for guidance on how to build a “culture of one.” 

In this episode, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Greg Friedman, chief executive officer & founder of Private Ocean Wealth Management and Cynthia Greenfield, chief experience officer at Private Ocean Wealth Management about strategies for successfully navigating a company merger or acquisition. Greg and Cynthia discuss their most recent book, Integrating Culture in Successful RIA Mergers and Acquisitions, as a way to share their experience and expertise.

Mark, Cynthia and Greg discuss:

  • The importance of culture in the success of a merger or acquisition  
  • Strategies that have worked for Private Ocean in the past to build a active employee-employer relationship through mergers and acquisitions
  • How coaches and facilitators can help in developing more proactive and rewarding meetings 
  • Strategies to bring employees together after a merger  
  • What Private Ocean is doing today to enhance the culture they want to create in their workplace

Resources:

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Connect With Greg Friedman and Cynthia Greenfield:

About Greg Friedman: Greg Friedman is the CEO of Private Ocean, an innovative West Coast wealth management firm, and the founder of Junxure, a CRM platform that defined technology for financial advisors. In 2007, Charles Schwab honored him with its prestigious IMPACT Award® for “Best in Tech.” In 2008, Financial Planning Magazine included Greg in its elite list of financial “Movers and Shakers”. Greg was also recognized in InvestmentNews’ 2017 Class of Icons and Innovators for his contribution to the advancement of the financial advice profession and for conceiving new ideas and tools that have propelled the industry forward. In 2018, Greg was named CEO of the Year at the WealthManagement.com Industry Awards.

About Cynthia Greenfield: Chief Experience Officer, Leadership Coach and Author. Cynthia develops strategies that deliver on a company’s mission and enhances the employee and client experience through organization, communication and engagement. She combines over a decade of experience in the financial services and technology industries with life coaching techniques to help build people stronger relationships that lead to successful partnerships. She is a community liaison who strives to partner firms with non-profit organizations and external vendors and she spearheads the event strategy for a $2B+ RIA firm. An advocate of healthy company culture, she helps drive cultural integration efforts during times of growth and transition and is responsible for developing and training staff on how to deliver a consistent client experience. In 2021, Cynthia co-authored the book, Integrating Culture in Successful RIA Mergers and Acquisitions, aimed toward business leaders within the financial services industry.


Brilliant Growth Strategies in the RIA World with Jeff Concepcion



While a number of RIAs have experienced significant growth in recent years, many have actually grown by default – not design: Often, advisors are relying on the market, existing clients and referrals to drive growth.

But there are a number of steps and strategies that advisors can implement to drive intentional, sustainable growth. Few leaders in the wealth management industry have a command over these strategies the way Jeff Concepcion, founder and CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners, has demonstrated. In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, talks with Jeff about the growth and rise of Stratos into a platform with more than $19BN in assets under management. 

Specifically, Mark and Jeff discuss:

  • Stratos Wealth Partners’ story, business model and strategies behind their tremendous growth
  • The ideal acquisition target for Stratos 
  • Stratos’ approach to creating and driving organic growth
  • Jeff’s views on how the pandemic has changed, and will continue to change, the RIA space for advisors and their clients 
  • Strategic advice on how you can improve your overall growth rates 

Resources:

Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Jeff Concepcion: 

About Our Guest:

Jeffrey Concepcion is the Founder and CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners, a firm which he launched in October of 2008. Jeff is responsible for the acquisition, development and coaching of the firm’s expanding number of affiliated advisors from across the nation. This is a role he embraces, and understands due to the fact that in addition to his leadership responsibilities, he also maintains a personal planning practice.

Jeff’s entire professional career has been spent in the financial services industry. Prior to starting Stratos Wealth Partners, Jeff spent 22 years in senior management positions with Lincoln Financial Network, including being the Executive Director for the Eastern Region where he was responsible for fully one-third of the United States. He was then appointed Senior Vice President of Market Access and a member of the Executive Committee; where he was one of only a handful of executives responsible for Lincoln’s entire retail financial services business.