Garrett Oakley was well on his way to making a mint as a fiduciary wealth manager and advisor to small 401(k) plans.
Just a couple of years out of college, the millennial Certified Financial Planner and Certified Public Accountant was part of a Charlotte, N.C.-based five-person boutique RIA that managed $1.3 billion in assets. Oakley himself ran a $100 million fee-based book of business, generating the better part of seven figures in revenue for the firm.
From there, he took a management position with Baird, overseeing the firm’s east coast financial planning unit, with about 200 advisors under his wing.
Not bad for a guy shy of his 30th birthday. But last year, Oakley made a major career shift, foregoing his lucrative assent through the financial services industry as a fiduciary advisor just as the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule was about to ramp up demand for young RIAs with his bona fides.
Today, Oakley leads a team of about a dozen internal investment advisors at Betterment, providing a human fiduciary touch point for the automated investment advisory’s 280,000 customers.
And no, he wasn’t recruited to Betterment. In fact, Oakley said, he reached out to Betterment.
“My philosophy really aligned with Betterment’s,” said Oakley. “I applied for a job and didn’t really care what it was.”
The firm’s platforms for retail and 401(k) investors blend low-cost passively managed exchange-traded funds, proprietary algorithms that automatically rebalance portfolios to harmonize with investors’ goals, and yes, a human capability serving up fiduciary advice to back Betterment’s robo-driven value proposition.
“The way I saw it, industry was changing,” said Oakley of the motivation behind his career shift.
“And I don’t believe good fiduciary investment advice should cost 1%,” he added.