Category Archives: Finance

RIA Edge: AssetMark’s Natalie Wolfsen and Adhesion’s Barrett Ayers

Whether you are looking to buy, sell or build a partnership with another company, finding the right fit for your vision is essential.

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Natalie Wolfsen, CEO of AssetMark, and Barrett Ayers, CEO of Adhesion Wealth, on their recently closed merger – highlighting their motivations for the deal, as well as their long-term vision. 

Specifically, Mark, Natalie, and Barrett discuss:

  • Why AssetMark and Adhesion Wealth decided to enter a partnership
  • How outsourcing is improving growth rates for RIAs
  • What RIAs should consider when buying, selling or considering a partnership to grow their businesses


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Natalie Wolfsen:

Connect with Barrett Ayers:

About Our Guests:

Natalie Wolfsen is the Chief Executive Officer at AssetMark. Prior to being named CEO, she led the strategy and execution for AssetMark teams spanning digital channel development, corporate strategy, thought leadership, marketing, and product development. Natalie has more than 20 years of leadership experience across six financial services organizations, where she directed teams who collectively brought to life more than 50 financial services products, platforms, and programs, including the design of one of the industry’s first-ever mobile trading platform.

Barrett Ayers joined Adhesion Wealth in 2004 and is one of the original founders of Adhesion Wealth. As President of Adhesion Wealth, Barrett oversees the strategic direction and long-term growth plans for the organization. During his time at Adhesion Wealth, Barrett has overseen the firm’s Product, Relationship Management, Investment Consulting, Model Management, and Portfolio Management groups.

RIA Edge Podcast: Savant’s Brent Brodeski: How M&A is Accelerating the Evolution of Advice

M&A activity has re-shaped the wealth management industry in recent years – but it also accelerating the evolution of the business, and ultimately access to financial advice. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Brent Brodeski, CEO of Savant Wealth Management, about the firm’s inorganic and organic growth, as well as its objective to extend advice to millions of new investors. 

Specifically, Mark and Brent discuss:

  •  How Savant Wealth evaluates potential acquisitions and what a good fit looks like
  •  Where the overall industry is currently in the M&A cycle
  • The difference between return on investment and return on “impact”
  •  What do RIAs need to attract more talent in the future


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Brent Brodeski:

About Our Guest:

Brent is the CEO and a founder of Savant. He has been involved in the financial services industry since 1988 and previously taught investment and finance courses at Rock Valley College, Rockford University, and Northern Illinois University. Brent earned a bachelor of science degree in finance and economics and a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from NIU. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®).

RIA Edge Podcast: Wealth Enhancement Group’s Jim Cahn: The Drivers of RIA M&A in 2023

In reviewing the past year, advisors are looking for more ways to grow their business. How will they take the first step into 2023 with a growth mindset?

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Jim Cahn, Chief Investment Officer and Chief Business Development Officer for Wealth Enhancement Group, about WEG’s M&A strategy — and the role M&A could continue to play in the firm’s growth next year. 

Specifically, Mark and Jim discuss:

  • How Wealth Enhancement Group’s platform differs from other active, professional buyers
  • How the 2022 market downturn has impacted M&A activity and smaller, less experienced buyers
  • How WEG is driving organic growth for advisors outside of M&A
  • How growth in the RIA industry will take shape in 2023


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Jim Cahn:

About Our Guest:

Jim brings significant financial services experience along with the investment management industry’s best thinking and best practices to his role as Chief Investment Officer of Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services. Throughout his professional career, Jim’s philosophy on investing has centered on providing clients with cost-effective, well-diversified portfolios and investment strategies that fit within a specific risk tolerance in order to help clients pursue their financial goals. Prior to joining Wealth Enhancement Group, Jim served as chief investment officer and portfolio manager for a Chicago firm, where he oversaw investment programs, launched a hedge fund-of-funds and consulted with clients. A frequent contributor to financial media, he has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business and BloombergTV, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He has also written a monthly column for since 2013.

RIA Edge Podcast: Content is King: Jackson Wood on Creating Persona and Meaningful Marketing Opportunities

The way advisors market their services has changed over the years, from one-to-one word-of-mouth and cold-calling to mass market approaches across Instagram and LinkedIn. Having more options than ever is inherently good for advisors looking to grow their businesses – but understanding how to appropriately use each platform is a key to successful marketing and business development. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Jackson Wood, financial advisor and portfolio manager at Freedom Day Solutions, about how he and his firm have used podcasts, YouTube and Instagram to connect with NextGen investors in need of financial advice – and how it has accelerated the growth of Freedom Day in recent years.  

Specifically, Mark and Jackson discuss:

  • The most frequently asked questions about financial planning and investment management from younger investors
  • How to effectively and efficiently create content that engages target audiences and clients
  • How smaller firms can see major returns on their marketing efforts and initiatives


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Jackson Wood:

About Our Guest:

Jackson is focused on serving his clients through diligent planning and brings a wealth of experience to many families, as a trusted advisor.  He has always had an interest in investing and began his career as an advisor at Fidelity Investments in Salt Lake City, UT.  Jackson moved to Idaho to raise his young family and was the founder of an independent registered investment advisor. 

RIA Edge Podcast: Brandon Odell on the State of Advisor Compensation & Staffing

With the intense competition for talent in the wealth management industry, leaders of RIAs need to be more strategic than even when developing compensation, talent development and retention programs.

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Brandon Odell, Partner and Director of Business Consulting at The Ensemble Practice, about the evolution of staffing and compensation in the RIA industry – and how the most successful firms are winning the war for talent. 

Specifically, Mark and Brandon discuss:

  • How RIAs are changing the way they hire and train new employees with a focus on retention 
  • How base and bonus compensation have evolved to ensure RIAs are paying competitively — without over-committing to long-term direct expense obligations
  • How RIAs are evaluating their organizational structures to align with future growth opportunities and client need


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Brandon Odell:

About Our Guest:

As Partner and Director of Business Consulting, Brandon Odell works directly with clients on strategy development and growth planning and serves as faculty for the Ensemble Management Institute, the company’s intensive program of business management classes for independent advisory firms. Brandon also contributes his research expertise to our ongoing efforts to benchmark the growth of the industry, including participating in the leading advisor compensation and staffing study, which Ensemble conducts in partnership with InvestmentNews.

RIA Edge Podcast: Brandon Kawal: How to Win the War for Talent in the RIA Industry

The competition for new and experienced individuals in the RIA channel is at an all-time high. Employees of RIAs have more options and opportunities than ever before — requiring leaders of RIA firms to be acutely focused on the management of human capital, compensation, benefits and retention. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Brandon Kawal, Principal of Advisor Growth Strategies, on the keys to attracting, developing and retaining key talent in the RIA industry. 

Specifically, Mark and Brandon discuss:

  • How ‘quiet quitting’ has impacted the RIA industry
  • What can business owners do to increase employee retention and satisfaction levels
  • Where RIAs can source new talent for new roles 
  • How RIAs are re-imagining compensation, benefits and rewards


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Brandon Kawal:

About Our Guest:

Brandon leads client engagements, thought leadership, and research. He is tasked with bringing insight, creativity, and analytical know-how to collaborate with and help our clients reach new heights.

Brandon enjoys writing about industry challenges and trends, especially all things millennial.  He authors and leads the annual M&A research for “The RIA Deal Room” which was recognized as the Industry Research Initiative of the Year in the 2021 Wealth Management Industry Awards.  Brandon has contributed to major industry publishers such as Wealth Management, Barron’s, Citywire, and ThinkAdvisor.  Brandon has been recognized as a ThinkAdvisor Luminary in Dealmaking and Growth.

RIA Edge Podcast: Schwab’s Jalina Kerr: How RIAs Can Grow By Design – Not Default

With markets no longer providing advisers with a wide number of opportunities to grow their assets, RIAs must be truly intentional about how they drive meaningful organic growth. 

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Jalina Kerr, Managing Director of Client Services for Schwab Advisor Services, on creating intentional growth strategies and how companies must adapt to the next generation’s wants and needs.

Specifically, Mark and Jalina discuss:

  • What companies can do create and manage intentional growth plans
  • How digital onboarding has changed the way advisors grow their clients base post-pandemic
  • What are advisors currently doing to accelerate their growth
  • How should advisors interact with the next generation of investors compared to previous generations
  • And more


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Jalina Kerr:

About Our Guest:

Jalina Kerr is the Managing Director of Client Experience for Schwab Advisor Services. Kerr’s team shapes the constantly evolving client experience with progressive technical and human resources designed to support the custody needs of a diverse advisor base.

Kerr began her career at Schwab in 1994 on the Advisor Services trading desk. During her tenure at Schwab, Kerr has held roles in client service delivery, operations, advisors in transition, strategy, and technology.

In 2016, AZ Business Magazine recognized Kerr as one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women. Kerr also serves on the Board of the Arizona Women’s Leadership Forum.

RIA Edge Podcast: Raj Bhattacharyya: The State of Play in RIA M&A

RIA mergers and acquisitions have been re-shaping the industry for the last several years. But after years of record deal-making activity, how have the declining market conditions and rising interest rates impacted RIA M&A in 2022?

In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Raj Bhattacharyya, CEO of Robertson Stephens, on the latest trends in the M&A market and how an increase in deals within the past year might impact the future needs and wants of buyers.

Specifically, Mark and Raj discuss:

  • The primary drivers and changes in 2022 M&A activity levels
  • How the types of deals and buyers are likely to evolve in 2023
  • Where Robertson Stephens sees opportunity in the RIA market
  • Key questions all sellers or potential sellers should ask prospective buyers during a deal process


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Raj Bhattacharyya:

About Our Guest:

Raj has over 27 years of experience in the financial services industry, leading large franchises across trading and capital markets.

Raj spent 17 years at Deutsche Bank, in both New York and London, in various senior roles.  Most recently, he was the head of the Foreign Exchange Franchise in the Americas, as well as the head of the Latin American Markets business.  Previously, while based in London, he ran Capital Markets and Treasury Solutions for Western Europe, which covered all European corporations and financial institutions for their financing, risk management and treasury needs.  

RIA Edge Podcast: Carolyn Armitage on The Importance of Succession Planning for RIAs

The number of advisors looking to execute a succession plan in 2022 has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, according to the latest RIA Edge Study “Pulse Poll” released in September. What is driving this accelerated shift?

In this episode of the RIA Edge Podcast, Mark Bruno, managing director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Carolyn Armitage, head of Thrivent Advisor Network, about the importance of creating a succession plan—and ultimately, the best and worst practices for putting a formal succession plan in place. 

Specifically, Mark and Carolyn discuss:

  • What is motivating RIA firm leaders to execute succession plans now
  • Why it’s important to have a formal written succession plan
  • How to determine when it is the right time for the founder to exit—and the employees to take over
  • Who business owners are choosing as successors and the importance of ensuring cultural alignment


Connect With Mark Bruno:

Connect With Carolyn Armitage:

About Our Guest:

Carolyn Armitage leads Thrivent’s newly crafted independent RIA, Thrivent Advisor Network. With her extensive experience in the wealth management industry, Carolyn’s strategic guidance will enable the next phase of development for the organization.

Her experience includes roles as an independent Financial Advisor, producing Branch Manager, the head of multiple wealth management teams such as HD Vest – now Advantax, ING Advisors Network – now Voya & Cetera, among others. She also led the Large Enterprise Business Management Consulting team for LPL Financial. Prior to her current role of heading up Thrivent’s RIA, Thrivent Advisor Network, Carolyn provided investment banking and consulting services, including valuation, expert witness, strategic planning and positioning, compensation, incentives, and equity sharing structuring, and internal and external succession planning to the industry’s most elite firms through the firm ECHELON Partners. 

RIA Edge Podcast: Lisa Salvi on The Secrets of Top-Performing RIAs

The RIA industry has experienced a significant amount of growth in recent years – but a handful of firms have found the keys to driving sustainable, long-term growth that will set them up for success in the future?

What are the “secrets” to becoming a top-performing RIA? In this episode of RIA Edge, Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, speaks with Lisa Salvi, Managing Director at Charles Schwab Advisor Services, about the results of Schwab’s 2022 RIA benchmarking study, and offers insights into the human capital and professional management approaches driving the growth of the industry’s top firms. 

 Mark and Lisa discuss:

  • Benchmarking growth in the RIA channel and the drivers of growth for the top 25% of the RIA industry
  • The intense battle for talent in the RIA segment, and how top-performers are successfully recruiting and retaining talent
  • The positions and skill sets that are the most sought after in the RIA market – and how it aligns with current and future growth opportunities
  • From a compensation perspective, the labor market has influenced both compensation levels, as well as the structure of compensation packages


Connect With Mark Bruno: 

Connect With Lisa:

 About Our Guest:

Lisa Salvi is a member of the Advisor Services leadership team and is responsible for Schwab’s Business Consulting and Education offer. Her team develops and manages programs and one-on-one consulting engagements designed to help independent advisors make lasting and significant improvements within their firms by focusing on key business, technology, and cybersecurity issues. Salvi’s team leads the annual RIA Benchmarking Study, the Compensation Study, and programs that support the development of advisor talent through executive education and student initiatives. They also provide insights and tools that help the Advisor Services sales and support teams deliver outstanding client service to