WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards Winner Shares How Firms Can Contribute To The Industry And Implement And Manage Rapid Growth, And How The Industry Can Improve
At WSR, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to honor the best firms and leaders in the wealth management industry during our inaugural WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards, recognizing firms and individuals who have made exemplary contributions to our industry.
Robertson Stephens, one of three winners in the Fee-Based RIA of the Year category, builds on the legacy of the firm’s successes in investment banking in the ‘90s, focusing on technology companies.
After relaunching in 2018, the Robertson Stephens of today provides wealth management services to executives, family offices, entrepreneurs, institutions and business owners, having grown from $500 million in assets under management (AUM) in 2018 to over $3.5 billion this year.
We sat down with CEO Raj Bhattacharyya to ask how firms can replicate Robertson Stephens’ successful rapid growth, how firms and professionals can contribute to the industry, and industry improvements to anticipate and strive for in the coming years.
WSR: What are the top ways that firms and professionals can contribute to the industry, and how does your firm fit in that picture?
Bhattacharyya: There are a variety of ways that firms and professionals can contribute to the industry. We focus on three key areas: firm-wide support, thought leadership and professional development.
We feel it’s important that our advisors spend much time with their clients and finding new clients. They can only do this by leveraging the support structure at the firm. We built a central support structure, so advisors don’t have to take on responsibilities that detract from their time spent interacting with clients.
Thought leadership allows us to participate in more extensive industry conversations that can further educate investors and advisors in areas like wealth planning and investment strategies.
For professional development, we encourage our advisors and support staff to continuously expand their expertise through classes and the exchange of ideas amongst the various teams at the firm. This exchange can help service their clients more effectively while creating a culture of teamwork and learning.
These three key areas drive Robertson Stephens, our culture and how we contribute to the success of the industry by providing our clients with a custom wealth experience while fulfilling their financial and investment goals.
WSR: How can a firm replicate your growth success, and how can they ensure that quality standards remain high during rapid expansion?
Bhattacharyya: The two questions are very intertwined. We have grown essentially because we never lose sight of our standards and are constantly looking for ways to improve our client experience. Our advisors earn our clients’ trust with their credibility, reliability and intimate knowledge of each client’s situation, as well as avoidance of self-interest. As a firm, we offer our clients guidance, strategy and execution to grow their wealth and build their legacy.
When we look for new advisors, we believe in finding advisors that have the same philosophy as us. Advisors that are attracted to joining us typically believe that the components of a great client experience include a curated investment portfolio, a comprehensive wealth plan that allows them to build their legacy, and intuitive technology.
As a firm, we have a strong growth mindset and look for advisors that want to grow and utilize the resources we offer to support their growth. All our senior executives are equity owners in the firm, and this is a big attraction for those advisors that choose to join us.
Most importantly, we believe in a partnership culture where our advisor teams collaborate with each other and receive substantial support from the central teams across investments, planning, technology and marketing, as well as compliance and billing.
WSR: In what ways can our industry improve in 2023 and beyond?
Bhattacharyya: I feel personal advice is needed more than ever. For most clients above a certain wealth level, like the clients we have at Robertson Stephens, the degrees of complexity get to a level where personalized service is essential.
The need for comprehensive wealth management is particularly true in the case of families, and especially when you add that most clients have taxable and tax-exempt accounts, joint, individual and children’s accounts, and unique tax and planning considerations.
In addition, technology is extremely important to make our client’s lives easier, like in our personal lives. We use technology to better interact with them and for them to monitor their wealth plan and portfolio.
The quality of service we offer to clients has tremendously improved in the last decade, and I see that trend continuing – whether it be new technology, new client interactions or new ways to communicate. We are moving in the right direction to constantly evolve to meet the clients’ needs.