Wealth Consulting Group founder Jimmy Lee.

The Wealth Consulting Group practices what the big firms still only preach about diversity.

“It is interesting because I think some of these [diversity] initiatives are being led by the huge companies because they kind of have to,” Jimmy Lee, The Wealth Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, told ThinkAdvisor. “[Companies] — especially in the white-male dominated financial world — have been under a lot of pressure … These large companies are now recognizing that diversity initiatives need to be taken very seriously.”

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ Center for Financial Planning recently conducted a study that found that only 3.5% of the 80,000 CFP professionals are black or Latino. In addition, only 23% of CFPs are women, a statistic that hasn’t budged in a decade.

And, for an example of diversity initiatives firms have taken recently, look to UBS and RBC Wealth Management, both of which made moves in May to build more diverse workforces.

At The Wealth Consulting Group, a hybrid RIA with securities offered through LPL Financial, diversity is already celebrated in the workplace.

The firm employs 81 advisors and 70 support staffers in 24 offices across eight states. Of that, women account for 55% of advisors and team members. In addition, more than 30% of its advisors and team members are minorities, and more than 6% identify as LGBTQ.

“I think the reason why we are who we are is just because of the way that we think from top down … We’re open. We are inclusive,” Lee, who himself is a South Korean immigrant, explained to ThinkAdvisor. “We do want to look like the people that we live with in the communities that we work in and live in.”

Headquartered in Las Vegas, the firm started with five offices in 2014. Since then, it has grown to more than 20 offices. In 2016, the firm experienced a “really fast-growing year” and, according to Lee, has continued to grow since then.

Year-end 2016 assets for the firm were around $894 million, a 95% growth in assets from a year earlier. Today, the firm has around $1.4 billion assets under management at the RIA, and nearly another billion in brokerage assets at LPL Financial.

Marlo Stil

Marlo Stil, managing partner at The Wealth Consulting Group, says the firm’s diversity and inclusion is a contributing factor to the firm’s growth.

“We feel very strongly that it’s that diversity and that inclusive mentality that has led to our growth,” she said. “It’s not in spite of our diversity and inclusion have we grown — but because of it.”

Stil herself is a gay Canadian immigrant.

“I think firms that do adopt a diverse and inclusive strategy, and do attract women, and do attract minorities, and do attract gay and lesbian advisors — and are open to that — have a huge advantage in preparing for the future,” Stil said. “Because that’s the way our country is built. The typical all-white, male, over-60 wirehouse atmosphere, or traditional banking environment, doesn’t look like the public they’re serving.”

 

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