Billionaires are their niche — knowing them inside out is their edge. Casey Kriedman was a financial advisor for only four years and partner Carryn McLaughlin fresh out of college when, in 2005, they partnered up at Lenox Advisors in New York City.
Faster than you can say ultra–high net worth, the two women, at ages 30 and 20, were creating financial plans for some of the biggest hedge funds and private equity managers in the country.
Fourteen years later, their booming boutique practice, The Broad Group, manages a lofty level of client assets in the top quintile of UBS Private Wealth Management.
On Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Kriedman and McLaughlin’s success with super-affluent real estate and Wall Street executives pivots on a highly bespoke business model with a key focus on estate planning.
The FAs serve a select 25 multigenerational client families whose members range in age from nonagenarians all the way through to millennial grandkids.
“Getting to Know You” might well be the two certified financial planners’ theme song. Their talent for drawing out clients about both financial and personal matters has meant a greater ability to help with customized solutions and sophisticated investment strategies to achieve financial goals.
Kriedman started out in 2001 as part of a high-touch team at Prudential Securities. Three years later, she moved to the smaller Lenox Advisors. The following year, she and McLaughlin, who had just joined Lenox as an analyst, decided to become a team.
After three years with Lenox, they moved to J.P. Morgan Private Bank. In 2014, the pair joined UBS.
Kreidman is a people person. McLaughlin complements that with a bent for analysis and detail. Together, they’re The Broad Group: broad for providing clients with broad coverage; broad for Broad Street in their native Philadelphia; and broad, yes, for being two brainy broads.
Here are highlights of our interview with the FAs:
THINKADVISOR: What’s your client niche?
CASEY KRIEDMAN: We focus on clients in the real estate space as well as hedge fund and private equity professionals in New York. Their balance sheets are pretty large, and most have an illiquid asset that we’re trying to plan around as a form of collateral and/or a source of wealth to pass from generation to generation.
I assume that most of your clients are male. Right?
CK: Definitely more men, but you’d be surprised that there are a lot of women, too — also female spouses, who work in other industries.
What’s one major differentiator of your practice?
CK: Understanding what’s in clients’ heads helps us help them achieve their goals. As you get to know clients and talk about their finances, topics become very personal. Ultimately, we learn a lot about their families, their values and both their personal and financial goals.
Do you two ever talk about your own personal lives with clients?
CK: Yes, we’ve shared many experiences. Over the 15 years that Carryn and I have been working together, a lot of personal [traumas] have occurred: A year and a half ago, I lost my four-year-old daughter to pediatric leukemia; we’ve experienced parent deaths, premature birth. But going through those struggles have [served to] help us become better advisors.
They’ve been very relevant to estate planning and money management. So sharing those personal experiences have made [clients] feel comfortable and helped to open them up.
You’ve specialized in in the ultra-high net worth space for 14 years now. What have you found helps put your clients at ease when meeting face to face?
CK: Because ours isn’t necessarily the most formal client base — they’re more casual and familial — we don’t walk into a meeting wearing the traditional private banker “uniform”: dressed to the nines in suits. But we do wear professional attire, [usually] pants and blouses, or dresses.
How do you help clients beyond financial planning and investing?
CK: Based on the interest they’ve expressed, we’ve held a series of [female] fertility roundtables discussing the options around [becoming pregnant], including using a surrogate or freezing eggs. Now we’re looking at having a fertility roundtable for men.
Any other roundtable topics on tap?
We’re discussing hosting a series on prenuptial agreements. We already discuss prenups with clients one-on-one or in small groups because how to talk about them with your future spouse and feel comfortable isn’t always easy for people.
As business partners, how do you two complement each other?
CARRYN MCLAUGHLIN: I’m analytical. I can be more in the weeds — numbers and details. I like that stuff.
CK: I’m definitely people-oriented. I like meeting a lot of people and finding ways I can help them.
Ms. Kriedman, you worked in advertising account management before becoming an advisor. What prompted you to make the switch to financial services?
I was meeting with my parents’ advisor at Prudential Securities to discuss my Roth IRA, and he asked if I’d considered becoming a financial advisor, to which I replied no. He said I had a terrific personality, which was important to being an advisor — and that you can’t teach people soft skills — but I could learn about investing, about which I knew nothing.
How did that go over with you?
I took him up on it, and he arranged an interview for me at Prudential. I was hired into the training program on the spot.
How did you build your practice?
CK: Solely on referrals. Carryn and I were able to help a select group of real estate principals, which allowed us access within that sector and to other Wall Street executives. We showed our strengths around financial planning and credit planning with clients that had families with balance sheets that had large illiquid assets.
In advising such families, what do you consider essential for them to know?
CK: We make sure that both spouses are aware of the investment strategies, that they’re fully in the know about how the estate plan works, how the investments are managed and that if, God forbid, something happens to one of the spouses, there’s continuity in the plan.
CM: We want to make sure that the next generation is aware of potential wealth and that they’ll receive estate flows if and when they’re scheduled.
How do you cultivate that next gen?
CM: We host family meetings to educate the multigenerational families we cover. So, we can be at the table with a patriarch and a matriarch in their 70s or 80s, their children in their 50s and grandkids in their 20s and 30s. We’ve used foundations or other charitable vehicles as a way to teach the next generation about investment philosophy and strategies.
What other sorts of family office services do you provide?
CM: Dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, including making sure that assets are titled correctly upon transfer. Asset titling is very important when it comes to estate planning in order to avoid probate.
What other issues do you educate clients about?
CK: As part of estate planning, we’re starting to research owning your own digital footprint. With all the websites where people aggregate data, it’s no longer so simple as just [keeping a record of] passwords.
Female financial advisors represent only 31% of total U.S. FAs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. How can the industry attract more women to the profession?
CM: It’s a great business for women. We have EQ [emotional intelligence] — not just [intelligence] about numbers. EQ allows us to have personal conversations that are beyond the scope of what normally falls under financial advisory. It lets us build deeper relationships and ultimately to be more helpful and give better advice.
— Related on ThinkAdvisor:
- How an Advisor Who Hates Sales Built a Billion-Dollar Practice
- Your Client Has Too Much in One Stock. What Do You Do?
- Inside Merrill’s New Framework for Wealthy Families