After watching her parents’ portfolio suffer permanent losses during the 2000-2001 stock market crash — largely because their advisor had suggested their portfolio be concentrated in tech firms that had no earnings — Molly Rothove decided she didn’t want that to happen to anyone else.
She became passionate about portfolio management, and today, with 17 years in the business, she’s vice president of Creative Planning, an independent wealth management firm and RIA with $48 billion under management and 700 employees.
Rothove’s niche is working with clients who have $25 million or more in assets. Those in this group tend to have more complex issues than some other clients, she says.
“[The ultra affluent client is] somebody who has concentrated business interests, or perhaps it’s concentrated real estate interests,” she told ThinkAdvisor.
“They have liquidity issues in the event of death from an estate tax perspective, they have more complex estate planning needs in terms of, not just planning for the estate tax, but multi-generational planning,” the advisor explained.
“There might be foundation planning that they want to incorporate. They might want to leave a more complex trust structure for their children to meet specific needs of their children, given the wealth size. There’s also planning from a company standpoint,” Rothove said.
She adds that most of these clients are referrals from existing relationships. “That’s really how I’ve been growing my practice over the last several years,” the advisor noted.
Although working remotely since the pandemic began isn’t hurting the business, she says, “it’s always easier to build relationships when you’re meeting in person — but once you’ve established that relationship, Zoom works incredibly well.”
Rothove got her BA at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, where Creative Planning is based, and an MBA from the University of Kansas. She met Peter Mallouk, her mentor and also the current president of Creative Planning, while she was in college.
She worked for him at his law firm, where she focused on trusts, wills and powers of attorney business.
Several months later, Mallouk bought Creative Planning, and she helped build out the wealth-management side of the business. (The firm also has 401(k), insurance, tax and estate planning teams, making it a “full-service” shop for clients.)
Here are more excerpts from the interview:
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Definitely [there are] challenges in terms of growing a business. You are always trying to stay ahead of the growth curve.
That’s very difficult to do [when] constantly trying to hire talent. That’s probably one of the things that we pride ourselves on is our ability to hire really great A-list people in the industry.
Also being able to grow and continue to deliver the breadth and depth of services at a high quality level.
[And] when we’re looking at wealth managers who are going to be working with clients, we’re looking for the people who have had 10-plus years of experience in the industry, they’re certified financial planners, they have lots of experience and particularly, they are very good communicators.
Being a great communicator is really critical to being able to not only deliver investment advice, but being persuasive so a client will be able to follow that advice.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and that you pass on to younger people?
Accept feedback. Especially as a young person coming out of college, not really knowing the industry, not really having any experience, and working with clients, accepting feedback and being able to grow as an advisor, as a communicator, as a leader.
One of the [most] critical things I’ve learned is to accept that feedback and to really act on [it].
[I also tell young hires that] it’s really important to say yes to opportunities. If the question is, will you sit in on a meeting, or will you help this client do this, or will you stay late and do this if possible, say yes.
The ability to grow and learn by those opportunities is really important. That’s one of the things that I did early in my career was when Peter asked me to do something, I said yes. And I was able to grow a lot because of all of the exposure to the opportunities.
How can the industry grow the number of women in it?
Woman might [avoid] the practice, [because] they’re concerned about being able to have a family and do this job. And it is absolutely possible [to do both].
How to communicate that comes down to them being able to see women in leadership roles within the financial services industry and see women who are successfully growing their practices, and also having families and leading by example.
The more we can hire women and encourage women to come into these roles, and to show them that it’s possible to not only manage a family life but have a thriving practice, [is] the best way.
And that’s what we’ve tried to do here. We have lots of women in leadership positions at Creative Planning, and it encourages all of our younger people who are coming in. They’re seeing these women in leadership roles and they realize that, “Hey, I can do this, too.”
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