CEO Of the Year: Adam Malamed Of Sanctuary Wealth

CEO Of The Year Adam Malamed Discusses His Vision For Sanctuary, Business Philosophy, Inspiration And Advice For Rising Professionals

Sanctuary Wealth appointed Adam Malamed to its top role one year ago – a large role to fill, as the firm served over 300 advisors with approximately $30 billion in client assets at the time. With 26 years of experience, Malamed excelled at the occasion, successfully accelerating Sanctuary’s growth and building out its C-suite with top talent.

Under Malamed’s leadership, Sanctuary achieved eight recruiting wins totaling approximately $4.27 billion in client assets and appointed David Vaughan as CFO, Kevin Miller as Chief Legal Officer, Kevin Chase as Chief Compliance Officer and Chris Shaw as East Coast Regional Managing Director.

Malamed’s experience fit perfectly with the Sanctuary CEO position. From September 2020 until he joined Sanctuary, he was CEO of Ajax Investment Partners, a fintech incubator and financial services M&A advisory firm. Prior to that, he served eight years as EVP and COO of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, including two years on the Board of Directors. Before being appointed COO, he spent almost six years as Co-COO of Ladenburg’s investment bank.

Under his leadership, the firm’s revenue grew from $35 million to $1.5 billion and its enterprise value grew from $165 million to $1.3 billion. When it was sold to Advisor Group (now Osaic) in February 2020, Ladenburg served over 4,400 advisors with $180 billion in client assets and $80 billion in managed assets.

At Ladenburg, Malamed led strategic growth and operational initiatives for the firm’s broker-dealers, insurance broker and investment bank, led firm-wide collaborative projects and participated in the acquisition of the broker-dealers.

Malamed successfully accelerated Sanctuary’s growth and built out its C-suite with top talent.

Prior to that, Malamed was President and Co-Founder of capital markets firm BroadWall Capital, which provided equity research on utilities and energy sectors to hedge and mutual funds. Malamed joined Ladenburg in 2006 when BroadWall sold its assets to the firm.

Outside of the office, Malamed serves on the Board of Trustees for Miami Country Day School, the Miami Children’s Museum and Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, which supports advisors in serving their communities. He lives in Miami with his wife and children, where he enjoys free diving, deep sea and spearfishing, hiking, biking and skiing. He holds a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, with a goal to earn a black belt within three years.

We spoke with Malamed about his vision, business philosophy and inspiration, as well as advice for rising professionals.

WSR: You have been CEO of Sanctuary for one year now. What was your vision when you took the helm and where are you in implementing that vision?

Malamed: When I joined Sanctuary as CEO, the firm was in the strongest financial position in its history. My vision was to build on that solid foundation and steer the firm as it embarked on the next stage of growth.

Today, Sanctuary is a thriving and successful firm and a leading voice in the independent wealth management industry. Over the past year, we’ve brought on highly experienced and talented industry professionals to round out our leadership team. We’ve continued to attract elite independent advisors – including highly successful wirehouse breakaways, among others – to our Partnered Independence model.

We’ve also added tools, resources and additional capabilities to help our advisors build true equity in their own practices. I believe there has never been a greater need for independent financial advice. Sanctuary will continue to invest in its business to provide advisors with the sophisticated solutions they need to serve their clients with distinction.

WSR: Tell us about your business philosophy and how that transmits to Sanctuary through your leadership.

Malamed: Throughout my career I have always aimed to lead with authenticity and integrity. I promote an inclusive culture, where colleagues are encouraged to express their opinions and bring new ideas to the table, as we all work toward the same goal of serving our advisors and their clients. Serving as CEO for Sanctuary for 12 months now, I have leveraged my experience in building and leading privately held and publicly traded wealth management and financial services enterprises to spearhead Sanctuary’s ongoing growth.

Over the past year, I was able to take the best elements of the firm and align them with an institutionalized strategy and scalable solutions to consistently elevate the financial advisor and client service experience. This is precisely what we have been achieving at Sanctuary and will do so going forward. In a fast-evolving wealth management landscape, Sanctuary has become the destination of choice for the elite advisors in the independent financial advice industry.

WSR: What inspired you to enter the wealth management industry?

Malamed: This industry is about giving people the chance to fulfill their goals and live their dreams. Sure, there are practicalities to saving and developing wealth over the course of generations, however, at its core, strategic wealth management allows clients and their families to leave a lasting, positive mark on the world.

Our industry aims to provide the tools, solutions and support to deliver incredible societal value to an advisor’s clients, allowing them to improve their lives and the communities in which they live. It’s an incredible responsibility, one I take personally and continues to inspire me each day.

WSR: What advice do you have for students or early-career professionals aspiring to top leadership in a wealth management firm?

Malamed: Learn to listen carefully. Wealth management firms, such as Sanctuary, must be attuned to the needs of their clients. The only way a leader can be successful in this mission is to be accessible and approachable. The realities of a nationwide network can complicate this process, but ready access to your calendar and a virtual (or real world) open-door policy can help identify the services and solutions your advisors need. I’d add that a good leader should be decisive, authentic and kind. This industry requires making decisions quickly, but it doesn’t require malice.

And, while they’ve always been a part of my philosophy, I’ve internalized Sanctuary’s five core values of client-centricity, authenticity, collaboration, communication and continuous improvement. These are much more than words to us – each relates to a foundational aspect of our culture we strive to live every day.

I’d stress that committing yourself to continuous improvement shows an incredible strength of character. Your team and leaders will find comfort in someone willing to admit they are wrong and immediately strive to improve.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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