Carson Wealth Revamps Management Structure

Laura Pierson first woman to head Peak Advisor Alliance; Paul West now leads business development

Laura Pierson, the new head of Peak Advisor Alliance. Laura Pierson, the new head of Peak Advisor Alliance.

Carson Wealth Management Group announced Monday that it has revamped its management team to help further the group’s growth and expand into new markets, including Canada.

Laura Pierson was named the new managing director of the group’s advisor coaching arm, Peak Advisor Alliance, while Paul West, who served as Peak’s managing director, will now head business development for the entire group.

Pierson, the first woman to head Peak, has served as Peak’s general manager and vice president since 2006. “I’m always committed to people having a defined career path while they’re here, and I knew that when needed, she [Laura] could literally run the firm,” Ron Carson, CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group and Peak’s founder, told ThinkAdvisor in a Monday afternoon interview.

Pierson told ThinkAdvisor the same day that during her eight years at Peak, she’s been charged with overseeing “all areas of the business,” except business development. That role is now being headed up by West, who just assumed a new “enterprise-wide role” as Carson Wealth Management Group’s managing director of business development.

“With the rapid growth of Carson Institutional Advisory, we thought it was time to bring Paul on in assisting us with that growth,” Carson said.

The Carson group created 14 new enterprise-wide roles in 2014 to support the “overall growth” of Carson Wealth Management Group, which includes Carson Wealth, Carson Institutional Alliance and Peak Advisor Alliance.

Carson says his group expects to continue its growth trajectory by adding 15 more offices around the country to CIA’s current stable of 19 offices. “We don’t really care about a specific part of the country; we care about the quality of the partner and we go where that quality is,” Carson says.

Peak is also looking to expand into serving Canadian advisors. “We are always looking for new ways to reach advisors seeking top-notch practice management coaching and content," Carson says. Peak "is currently exploring possible opportunities where we could have an immediate impact in assisting the thousands of financial advisors in Canada that are looking to run better advisory businesses," adding that Peak is in the "beginning stages" of this exploration, with "no launch date or timeline" having been set for such an expansion.

Says Carson: "Our primary focus at this time is that we ensure that this potential expansion makes sense for our business and advisors we work with, both financially and geographically.”

However, Pierson says that Peak is filling new roles internally, having just filled one spot and looking to soon fill another. As Peak continues to build out the “digital marketing realm” of its business, she anticipates that Peak’s marketing and client service departments “will grow very quickly” and that “those are likely areas [where] we will be looking to fill positions.”

Pierson says she’ll focus on fulfilling “a personal passion to see more women in leadership roles as well as certainly more female advisors.”

Peak is focused on helping advisors attract Gen X and Gen Y clients through its Digital Fortress Suite, launched in 2013.  Pierson says the service is Peak’s “digital marketing command center that really manages an advisor’s website and social media channel by offering constantly updated turnkey client facing content.”

“Having an online presence to attract the next generation” of clients “really just gets you in the game,” Pierson says. “Millenials, Gen X, Gen Y, if they really can’t find [an advisor] on the first page of Google, you are very likely to be disqualified as a viable advisor for them.”

Peak, she continues, has “put tools into our [Digital Fortress] platform that takes the guesswork out of it [social media and website design] for advisors — they don’t have to come up with the content themselves nor do they have post it themselves; much of it is compliance approved already so they can set it up and forget about it.”

Pierson says Peak has also added “a lot of content” to its service offerings in the areas of continuity and succession planning, in anticipation of succession planning rules to be issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission this fall.

The group also expects to roll out later this year “several” robo-advisor initiatives, Carson says, predicting that the “winner” in the robo race will offer “maximum technology with meaningful human touch.”

--- Check out 6 Secrets to Becoming a Billion-Dollar RIA Firm: aRIA on ThinkAdvisor.

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