Women of Wealth Management

The RIA business is many good things but integrated from a gender standpoint is not one of them. This is not so great. Women are the majority of humanity and they have an asset-building strategy that can't be beat. Women outlive their beer-and-steak mates and end up with big estates. But today's women have too another strategy -- pursuing wealth in the workplace. Yet when they go to find fellow women to talk all this through with, they don't readily find them.

Companies big and small have for decades fallen over themselves to say that they have women's initiatives but I can't think of one that has amounted to much. But there are stories-- dozens or hundreds -- of them about women exerting their influence on this business and we are starting to collect them. It's a starting place -- documenting the ground being covered by women in the form of engaging tales graphically depicted by the physiognomy of the fairer sex.


Jenny Johnson: We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, and technological advances are reshaping how financial solutions are delivered.

With cash burn high, WisdomTree offloads AdvisorEngine onto white knight, Franklin Templeton -- which could score big with forgotten Junxure

Franklin CEO Jenny Johnson is taking the San Mateo, Calif., fund firm on an M&A tear of RIAs and RIA software and asset managers, with Legg Mason already under contract.

May 7, 2020 — 2:51 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: This is a story of a publicly traded asset manager in WisdomTree selling a chunk of technology it acquired to create a "digital" strategy to bridge itself to financial advisors and a new world of distribution. It didn't work out. The buyer is Franklin Templeton, ...

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Lori Hardwick: 'For all genders, becoming a financial advisor takes guts...rarely is there a salary to draw on.'

Women can thrive in 'kill-to-eat' RIA culture with good mentors, advocacy and inclusiveness to counter toxicity to innate feminine strengths

Lori Hardwick shares unvarnished thoughts about women's 'voices' falling on 'deaf ears' after joining 75 women to talk about the 'brutal truths' facing them in the RIA business at The Dynasty Women’s Network Event in St Petersburg, Fla.

March 10, 2020 — 8:03 PM by Guest Columnist Lori Hardwick

Brooke's Note: Recently, women's events have surged in the RIA business. Presumably, this is a good trend. An industry that relies so heavily on human talent, but draws so lightly on women -- then does little to position for success the few women its does attract ...

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Porter Gale: We just have to be smarter and more creative.

Personal Capital keeps hiring move-the-needle executives, but the growth rate -- enviable to many -- is still pretty flat, if an IPO is in its future

The Redwood City, Calif. virtual RIA hired its third ‘growth executive’ to stoke demand

December 11, 2019 — 5:26 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Of all the startups out of the Great Recession of 2009, Personal Capital is still topping the list of success stories. It wasn't easily foreseen. The two areas where companies are disrupting norms is with technology and fees -- much more automation and far ...

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Sallie Krawcheck: It's easier to divorce your spouse than it is to get rid of an investor.

Why Sallie Krawcheck made a plea for 'divorce' from unnamed 'investors' as her Ellevest startup approaches its sixth birthday

The robo-advisor still has AUM of just $400 million; Now investors need new patience as the co-founder pivots toward higher net-worth women willing to pay higher fees.

December 2, 2019 — 5:26 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: We talk about all the reasons mom-and-pop RIAs keep beating the venture-backed RIA startups as handily as banks, corporate advisors and wirehouses. One reason that doesn't make the usual list is that classic RIAs are almost universally self-funded -- hence organic by nature. That ...

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Ken Fisher: The 91% portion of the firm that's growing more than makes up for the declines cited in media.

Ken Fisher goes back on offense by attacking 'completely false' media claims and letting readers know the lost $4-billion of assets were easily replaced

The founder and CEO of Fisher Investments used op-ed in local Washington paper to move past the apology phase and signal strength

November 9, 2019 — 4:55 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: The now infamous Tiburon CEO Summit of 2019 ended exactly a month ago on October 9th, the one where Ken Fisher spoke at some length about "genitalia" and Alex Chalekian blew a whistle at high volume on his lewd remarks. The incident quickly morphed ...

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Rachel Schnoll: I’m confident we have a solid foundation.

Goldman Sachs & Co. appoints Rachel Schnoll to yank off United Capital band-aid that Joe Duran didn't -- making FinLife work with non-UC applications

The New York-based investment bank has the cash and people to do the combinations -- especially Goldman software -- that the roll-up's founder couldn't afford or didn't want to advantage

November 8, 2019 — 4:52 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Skeptics around the RIA business wondered whether Goldman Sachs got anywhere near its money's worth ponying up $750 million in cash for United Capital and its $25 billion or so of AUM. See: Goldman Sachs readies splashy RIA retail debut as it (likely) adds ...

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Sallie Krawcheck: All this nonsense about lattes and shoes is shifting the attention -- and thus the blame -- for the underlying systemic money challenges women face, to the women themselves.

Oisin's Bits: Sallie Krawcheck defends latte-spending after high-net-worth pivot • Black Diamond surges past $1 trillion • Fieldpoint loses $400 million book of business to HighTower RIA sparking war of words

Sallie Krawcheck rails; the Jacksonville portfolio management firm dwarfs Advent; and a HighTower RIA airlifts $400 billion from Fieldpoint, sparking strong words

May 20, 2019 — 4:32 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: One investor at a time. The advisor invited to the fancy wedding. Blissful, silver-haired couples retired to awe-inspiring views. Wall Street has tried every way to sell its services. The latest theme isn't about outcomes. It's about living the journey. Ameriprise advocates taking ...

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Sallie Krawcheck: It can be life-changing money. Retire-like-an-Instagram-influencer money. Get-your-hand-off-my-leg money.

Sallie Krawcheck raises fresh $33 million but only after her 'get-your-hand-off-my-leg' venture becomes Schwab RIA with classic fees and minimums and a warrants-for-AUM program

Ellevest has only $283 million of AUM but now Melinda Gates is an investor and big clients will get warrants kicked back to them for bringing in AUM

March 30, 2019 — 5:49 PM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: At this stage, Ellevest is a survivor of two fads that largely died -- the pure robot and the advisor for-women, by-women. The business-to-consumer robo model barely lives on, and I'm not sure there is one out there that breaks even. The financial ...

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Cynthia Loh: 'Subscription-based pricing is second nature to many of us.'

Schwab hopes to blend into the subscription world of Netflix, Amazon and Apple by dumping asset-based fees and wooing millennials with Intelligent Portfolios for $30 a month

Ex-Betterment exec Cynthia Loh wins 'love' by making digital advice a $30 monthly ding regardless of assets citing its 'approachability'

March 29, 2019 — 1:02 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: I am on the hook for several automatic subscription fees every month including: Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, Netflix and The Boston Globe (sports pages). Yes, once you commit, it's pretty painless. I really don't know if I'd do the same for financial advice. But ...

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Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson is opening the doors to millennials with zero-fee mutual funds; will competitors respond?

Abby Johnson's zero-fee play for millennials gets to $1 billion in one month but Vanguard, BlackRock and Schwab say piffle; Note, RIAs need not apply

The play to out-Vanguard Vanguard gets stony response from competitors but analysts say Fidelity may actually be a quick study in the freemium game

September 1, 2018 — 6:38 AM by James Picerno

Brooke's Note: The idea of Fidelity offering free mutual funds a decade ago would have been right up there with driving a drone to work. Now it blends in with so much of the race to free, or virtually free, portfolio management we hear about. But ...

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Allison Felix proved herself the old-fashioned way to create a very modern result.

A $2.7 billion RIA makes Allison Felix, 40, its president. She started as an executive assistant out of college.

CEO Steve Cassaday also sold her a minority stake in the firm and paid for half of an MBA as part of her grooming

July 13, 2018 — 7:49 PM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Back when RIABiz got started, we put a big emphasis on debriefing breakaway brokers who became RIAs. There are lots of good stories but none is better than Steve Cassaday's. See: A breakaway story, old-school style Since his "old-school" breakaway, we haven't crossed ...

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Donna Wells: I consider myself a hacker, even, if not an engineer.

Betterment turns to ex Mint and Schwab marketing exec Donna Wells to 'hack' back copycat robos and make its brand a household name

No longer the disruptive New York upstart, the $14 billion AUM robo is outgunned by institutional heavy-hitters -- a dynamic Donna Wells knows

July 12, 2018 — 6:12 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: The robo naysayers have long made one very boring point about the very exciting prospect of creating from scratch a better, cheaper, fairer and more inclusive financial advice business. Namely, the analysts have pointed to the immutable client acquisition costs they see day ...

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Kara Murphy is a rare enough talent that United Capital was willing to adjust to her timing.

Joe Duran bets two heads are better than one with Kara Murphy and Bob Landry on board to lead United Capital's investment strategy

The United Capital CEO goes from zero to two investment officers to handle mounting task of managing $22B of AUM and a projected $10B of FinLife assets

June 13, 2018 — 5:42 PM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: You'd think that the rise of passive investing, robo-investing and all that stuff about performance as measured by "wellness" might make chief investment officers obsolete. Yet in still another irony of rising RIA automation, the stock of such humans seems to be on the rise. Joe ...

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Blair duQuesnay, like Josh Brown, paid her dues on Wall Street.

Reformed Broker RIA makes hire to turn his $825-million-AUM firm into a blog incubator with a not-unneeded feminine touch

Ritholtz Wealth's Josh Brown hires estimable Blair duQuesnay, a reformed UBS broker who brings her own online presence

June 8, 2018 — 2:37 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: I recall a time when every headline in the financial advisory trade press seemed to contain the words "social media." Suddenly everyone was an expert about how you could hang out with friends online and jot thoughts in a public diary and -- ...

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Alexa von Tobel will keep her title with the relaunch of LearnVest but her idealistic mission may or may not survive.

Why exactly Northwestern Mutual bought a digital darling for $250 million, shut it down, orphaned its customers and declared progress

When the Milwaukee-based mega-insurer relaunches in six months, the one aspect certainly subtracted from the mix will be the cash-draining 8,000 mass market customers

May 9, 2018 — 9:23 PM by By Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: If there were a handbook of M&A ethics, the chapter on legacy behemoths buying digital-era startups promising to democratize financial advice would read: "Dark, old-line product manufacturers are permitted to buy small, promising, disruptive, cash-burning beacons of entrepreneurial light and re-educate the founders ...

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