After nearly a year’s absence from the RIA community she knows–and loves–so well, former Schwab Institutional president Debbie McWhinney has resurfaced, landing a high-profile position at a firm that likes the advisor community enough to put its money where its mouth is. On May 8, Focus Financial Partners, the rollup firm founded and headed by Rudy Adolf that has acquired 15 “partner firms” in just two years, announced that McWhinney had joined its now five-member board of directors. Ever the optimist for the RIA industry, in an interview with Editorial Director Jamie Green, McWhinney noted that “this industry is on fire,” and explained why she chose to affiliate with Focus Financial, which now has five members on its board, including founder and CEO Rudy Adolf. At the same time that the firm was bolstered by RIA expert McWhinney, Focus added another new member, Bill Campbell, a marketing and branding expert and previous chairman of BankOne Card Services and Chase Card Services.
What made you decide on Focus?
As I looked at all the rollup models, I believe Focus comes the closest to providing what I call 2+2=6; which is where you take the best of the RIA industry, leverage it with shared knowledge and good expertise at the company level, and create a growth opportunity for the industry, particularly for the players within Focus.
The issue here is that this industry is on fire, but there are a lot of firms out there, and it’s harder and harder to generate new clients, because the average person is still confused. The RIA industry in general is figuring it out, but Focus is about making it easier for firms to grow, making it easier for them to find succession plans, and making it easier for them to figure out how to continue with their operating leverage. Then, ultimately, it’s about having the partners–which is what all the RIAs would be–to leverage each other in a successful company.