News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community


Orion rescinds RTO order after its staff rebels by hijacking company email list, distributing petition and tipping off RIA media

CEO Natalie Wolfsen suffers first setback and rescinds a return-to-office (RTO) policy after week of protest to work on a more collaborative agreement on a post-COVID new normal

Author Lisa Shidler November 23, 2023 at 12:20 AM
no description available
Natalie Wolfsen: We’re embracing a collective pause.
Brooke Southall and Keith Girard contributed to the editing of this article.

People Moves

Pete Giza

Pete Giza

November 23, 2023 — 4:29 AM
RTO is a real estate issue, not a people collaboration issue. If you don't believe me just look at what is happening to commercial real estate in NYC. Nearly 40% will convert or remain vacant. Small businesses with a international footprint have been doing this for decades. ALL of my startups have had a remote slant. My first startup was during the day when ISDN in the house was like 10GbE today. Yet we ran 70% remote. Some jobs do require on-site, but many do not. The most significant considerations are finding qualified, talented management and employees with integrity. But this too shall pass. Pete
Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy

November 23, 2023 — 4:32 AM
Work at the office, or don't work at all would be a strong managements message; ala Elon Musk. Orion management clearly isn't in a position to negotiate w/ their own employees...sad.


November 23, 2023 — 10:04 AM
It’s crazy this is really even that much of a discussion and debate now that Covid-19 has passed. These people don’t realize AI will take there WFH job before too long
Oisín Breen

Oisín Breen

November 23, 2023 — 12:52 PM
@Pete ... I remember years ago, when studying a spot of, I guess urban sociology, I came upon the understanding that where a factory is specifically sited (it moves frequently) is a key indicator of mass societal shifts, and that, in combination with the bargaining power of the cottage industries, you can track pretty significant trends... (to make a basket at one point in history, even with early factories, you needed artisans to finish them, so they were on roads to get products delivered to villages to then be collected and distributed in towns, but eventually the artisans were enticed into towns as factories moved into centres, and then the deprofessionalisation occurred, but today factories today live on the outskirts, or in remote countries.) Simply, where the labour is, and where the labour moves to, it tells us a lot. Trends like quiet quitting, remote work, this kind of remote-quasi-revolt (just reading from Lisa's article, I've not researched, so don't take my language as inferring any greater knowledge than any other reader) ... to me they indicate a shift back toward the cottage industry model ... kind of a technological move to the pre-industrial 'geist'... Whether this is a good thing, I'm skeptical, but is it a good thing for skilled and experienced producers of labour? Probably, yes. It's also interesting in the context of stakeholder debates, as we could well be on the cusp of an era where the professional classes increasingly act out of their 'class' interest, perhaps not unionising, but being vocal, like this... That will then, of course, have ramifications throughout industries, including, likely RIAs, or start-ups like you mention Pete... The pact of equity for head-down grinding, 'ownership' of a shared vision... who knows, maybe that becomes threatened, too, what with so many firms not realizing their initially pledged potential... TLDR: I wonder are we about to see a steady break in the unwritten contract of 'buy-in' from professional employees now used to seeing work as a smaller part of their self-identity, as they now inhabit, rather than occupy their own local communities?


November 23, 2023 — 5:25 PM
I can recall an interesting parallel from my study of microeconomics back in the day. During the rise of the industrial age in Britain, many factory owners first recruited workers from farms. For generations, people regulated their lives according to circadian rythms. To recondition workers to the factory, owners installed bells or whistles to signal the start and stop of work and the end of the day. But even that wasn't enough. Factory owners found that workers stopped coming to work, once they felt they made enough money for the week. To solve that problem, they lowered wages to a subsistence level to force workers to work the entire week. We've come a long way since then. But now distruptive technologies are reshaping the workplace once again. Is it a bad thing? Probably not, but it requires a new paradigm for the workplace. Better to embrace it, than swin against the tide of history.


November 23, 2023 — 9:29 PM
Probably a reckoning for downtown offices, in highly congested places like Manhattan, etc. I get wanting the office back, but at the same time, I can totally see the irritation with making folks commute 1-2hrs each way again because non of the EEs can afford to live near the office. Ross Perot had it right back in the day when he made the office close to where his employees lived and he lived pretty far way.
Peter Giza

Peter Giza

November 24, 2023 — 4:31 PM
First - I don't agree with the way this was handled. Second - this is business, no emotion. Third - COVID changed EVERYTHING. Fourth - AI is akin to the cotton gin which virtually wiped out an industry overnight. Manual cotton combing, essential to the cotton business was no longer needed. HOWEVER it I increased the need for planters and pickers. So displacement led to greater need elsewhere. Fifth - every scenario must be analyzed. Not every area of business can utilize WFH. Sixth - the social aspect are very important. People do need to get together on a scheduled basis which again is dependent on the business needs. My WFH centric group came into the office once a week of for no other reason to hang with each other. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I stand by the quality and integrity of employees AND maleable, talented management from top down have to understand and act properly to succeed at WFH and now AI. The combination will change the face of business GLOBALLY.
Peter Giza

Peter Giza

November 25, 2023 — 4:27 PM
@Oisín I make no claims as to being anything more than a history buff and a voyeur into trends and events. History has and continues to show that greed is a key driver in global impact. From the Kahns onward the desire for world domination has continued to change the face of civilization. History has and continues to show that Greed for power and riches have caused enormous wealth, human suffering, repression, and so forth. It has also a force for good in limited historical cases. Progress as studied is almost always tied to greed eventually. The cotton gin is an example. Many times progress in an area is started with altruistic views and goals. Using social media as an example. There were those believed in its value as a positive impact to social wellbeing allowing people to connect globally like never before. Instead it has become the progenitor of silent civil war, propaganda platform and the list of nefarious uses are almost as limitless and human imagination. Enter AI. One of the most incredibly impactful advances in progress - globally. So impactful it has experts, scientists and politicians scared to death of the unstudied and unknown impact on the human race. Yeah, the human race. This isn't just some incremental or localized impact, it's global and it can have major economic impact on an entire nation. Enter those with exclusive access to the advanced aspects and capabilities whose goal has been to dominate the world of money. If you call "Dr. Evil" started with his hostage demand with "1 million dollars" and gets laughed out of the room. Then he ups the ante to "100 billion dollars". One million dollars won't buy a car soon. 100 billion, meh. Acquisitions are reaching that level ever faster. We now hear "trillion dollar" valuations fairly often. And now the trillionaire something a few decades ago was something of dictionary characters like Daddy Warbucks. The impact will be greatly accelerated, it will act with far greater economic reach. And the number of inputs are as many as human emotions, actions and creativity. Not to mention war, famine, social unrest, etc. I loathe to end this on such a cheezy note but only time will tell. History is time observed and recorded. Pete


November 30, 2023 — 1:53 PM
I have no issue with WFH and believe most would prefer hybrid. However, we onboarded with Orion in 2021. Incredibly challenging. Many of the individuals responsible for our onboarding were remote and unable to resolve issues in a timely manner due to communication challenges.

Related Moves

September 30, 2023 at 2:31 AM

Orion names 'left-brained' Natalie Wolfsen as CEO to replace Eric Clarke, and AssetMark, which synchronized its announcement, hires Michael Kim as her replacement

Orion Chairman Charles Goldman again lures his protege to self-replace, while Michael Kim was 'integral to AssetMark’s record financial performance over the past several years'

September 8, 2023 at 11:58 PM

Seven 'RIA' chief executives are stepping aside for CEO 'operators' as PE backers get 'trigger' happy in adverse market; here are their stories

Whether it's Edelman Financial Engines, SMArtX, Allworth or InvestCloud, the re-CEO-ing process follows a fat 2020 capital raise and thinner results in stormy financial markets.

September 7, 2023 at 9:46 PM

Cetera hiring Mike Durbin as CEO -- overseeing its existing 'CEO' -- completes Genstar's stellar HR week after it put Charles Goldman atop Orion's board -- with 'exponential' growth in mind for the 'middle market' companies

The Los Angeles broker-dealer nabbed the Fidelity legend to take its $118-billion AUM and 8,000 advisors higher, just as Orion -- also majority owned by Genstar -- makes a similar move.

May 18, 2023 at 1:46 AM

See more related moves

RIABiz Directory

The Industry Sourcebook for RIAs

   |    LISTING

RIABiz Directory sponsored by:

Directory Sponsor Logo

White Paper Postings

Common Tags

Recent Articles

Popular Writers

RIABiz logo


About Us




RIABiz, Mill Valley, California
Copyright © 2009-2024 RIABiz Inc. All rights reserved.