WSR Names Platform Leaders From AssetMark, Advisor Group, SEIA, LPL And Cetera As Inaugural Group Of Top Platform Leaders
Investment platforms serving financial advisors and professionals can be quite complex, and the individuals who manage them must maintain broad and current knowledge across an array of investment products, an understanding of which product is needed in what situation and a firm grip on product evolution.
For those who lead the largest platforms, thousands or even tens of thousands of advisors depend on their dedication, knowledge and leadership to bring cutting-edge product and platform solutions to their clients. In this year’s IS 5, WSR recognizes outstanding investment solutions leaders who have demonstrated excellent leadership at some of the largest industry platforms, measured both by assets and advisors using the platforms.
Reflecting the constant state of change in asset management and portfolio construction trends today, this inaugural list will not remain static: Going forward, WSR will review the leadership across the industry’s largest platforms each year to determine the most deserving leaders in line with the industry landscape at that time.
The executives below are in alphabetical order. Please join us in congratulating them.
Zoë Brunson, Chief Investment Strategist of AssetMark
Joining AssetMark in 2007, Brunson oversees the firm’s Platform Investment Strategies Group, with responsibility for due diligence on investment strategists on the firm’s platform and investment consulting. She also led the firm’s turnkey platform solutions and was a portfolio manager of three of the firm’s strategies before May 2021.
With over 25 years of experience, Brunson previously led Standard & Poor’s investment advisory services team, which was tasked with creating multi-manager strategies and manager due diligence.
AssetMark’s platform held $91.5 billion and served 9,200 advisors as of year-end 2022.
Brunson sees technology changing her firm’s platform this year by “increasingly eliminating manual processes from due diligence, enabling us to be more efficient and allowing us to spend more time on deeper, proactive research.”
She continued, “Improved analytical tools give us powerful insights to inform our expectations on investment strategies, ultimately helping our advisors select specific strategies for clients with confidence.”
Joe Lutz, a Wealth Manager at Southern California-based Lutz Wealth Advisors, said, “Zoë and her due diligence team at AssetMark have been amazing partners to me and to our firm. She took the time to understand our values and thoughts on portfolio construction, came back to us during the process for updates and suggestions on their progress and ultimately delivered a valuable package that we immediately put into action.”
“Their work saved my team incalculable hours of research and I believe put together a set of quality portfolios for our clients that would have been difficult to duplicate on our own,” Lutz concluded.
Shannon Larson, SVP, Platform Management and Product Development of Advisor Group
With over 22 years of experience at financial advisory firms, Larson leads and manages her firm’s product management and development, wealth management platforms and product due diligence. In addition, she is responsible for aligning the platforms, products and talent across the firm’s network.
Before taking the reins of Advisor Group’s platforms, which serve an estimated 7,500 advisors with $196 billion in assets, Larson served as the firm’s SVP, Product Management and Development, aligning wealth management product solutions across the firm’s sales organization, research and product due diligence teams, as well as external distributors.
Prior to Advisor Group, she served as VP, Director of Retail Distribution, and later as VP, Senior Global Relationship Manager, at Eaton Vance; as VP, Wealth Management Marketing, at Cetera Financial Group; VP at LPL Financial; and in various roles at Fisher Investments.
“Helping our advisors find the right solutions to grow their advisory practice and serve their clients starts by providing them with an innovative, robust and intuitive platform,” Larson said. “We focus on continuous improvements and deeper integrations into our full ecosystem of digital experiences to help advisors grow as holistic wealth managers, including financial planning services, securities-based lending and more.”
Larson says that her firm’s platforms align with advisor preferences, including solutions that allow advisors to manage models internally, a curated suite of investment managers for advisors to choose, and an integrated platform for advisors and their clients. She concludes, “Our multifaceted platform is supported by advisory consultants who help advisors take advantage of its valuable features to grow their advisory practices.”
“Working with Shannon’s team and utilizing Advisor Group’s wealth management platform has increased my assets under management by attracting new clients and providing an enhanced offering to my existing clients,” says Tiana Ronstadt of Tucson, Arizona-based Power Women Investing. “Under her leadership, we have seen an incredible level of personalized support and engagement.”
Ronstadt continued, “Importantly, it has increased my confidence as an advisor. This platform allows me to do what I do best: be a life coach, consultant and holistic planner for my clients. I leave the money management to those that do it best and focus on working with each individual to identify their unique goals and dreams.”
Deron McCoy, Chief Investment Officer at Signature Estate & Investment Advisors (SEIA)
With 28 years’ experience at SEIA, McCoy rose through the ranks to Chief Investment Officer almost 10 years ago and has served on the firm’s investment committee since 2001. The firm’s combined platforms hold over $12.5 billion in client assets and serve approximately 390 advisors.
In his role, McCoy serves as managing director of the firm’s Department of Investment Management & Economic Strategy, including acting as Head Portfolio Manager for the firm’s discretionary accounts, leading the research team in developing the firm’s global macro strategy and coordinating investment due diligence.
McCoy is one of only 940 active CFA holders to simultaneously hold a CFP designation. When not working, he enjoys the mountains, the beach and coaching his children in sports.
“Our model portfolios have several paths to growth as they appeal to a wide audience,” McCoy said, commenting on how he accelerates growth on the firm’s platform. “The end client can customize the holdings in accordance with their primary concerns – whether that is low fees, high growth, factor preference or a need for dividend income.”
“Second, after-tax returns are our focus,” he continued. “Thus, we offer Muni accounts and the ability to swap out some tax-inefficient mutual fund holdings for ETFs and individual stocks. All with zero proprietary products.”
Rob Pettman, EVP, Wealth Management Solutions at LPL Financial
With 22 years of experience, Pettman spent over 18 of those years at LPL Financial, climbing the ladder from Investment Product Consultant to his current position helming wealth management solutions at one of the largest platforms in the nation.
“LPL’s business model is 100% focused on the advice business and on solving real problems for advisors and institutions,” Pettman said.
The LPL Wealth Management Solutions platform held total brokerage and advisory assets of $1.1 trillion as of the end of 2022, with over 21,000 advisors engaging with the platform, including over 11,900 independent advisors, approximately 5,800 advisors at about 500 independent RIAs and over 3,500 advisors at approximately 1,100 enterprises.
Commenting on the advantages of operating a platform of this size, Pettman said, “Our industry leadership allows us to provide value and a customizable experience so advisors and institutions can focus on what they do best – serving their clients and growing their business.”
He concluded, “Our client-centered model gives us strategic agility to rapidly innovate while our team-based research department’s deep expertise helps us offer powerful solutions, guidance and investor commentary.”
“I’ve known and worked with Rob for more than a decade. I’ve participated in many pilot programs and have always admired how he encourages feedback and really listens to our needs,” said Las Vegas-based advisor Steve Budin of The Budin Group.
Budin continued, “He never stops innovating and each iteration builds on the last, always evolving toward an even better experience. I am a big fan of LPL’s MWP [Model Wealth Portfolios] platform, which has really transformed my practice with automation and efficiency.”
Kerry Pierce, Managing Director, Head of Investment Solutions at Cetera Financial Group
According to her LinkedIn profile, Pierce arrived at Cetera almost eight years ago, first as VP, Investment Solutions, then as Head of Investment Solutions, a position she has held for four years.
Pierce previously served in various roles at LPL Financial including as VP, Advisor Platform Strategy, and at Fidelity Investments as Director, Managed Accounts Product Development.
Cetera declined to make Pierce available for comment, or to provide further details about the firm’s wealth management platform.
Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com
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