The exceptionally compatible personal and professional relationship of financial advisor partners Gregg Powers and Scott Powers has one easy explanation: They are identical twins.
Beyond that, the two are inseparable best friends, all of which has served to fuel their success as independent FAs after 17 years as bank brokers with Wells Fargo, they tell ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
The brothers are redhaired and jokey, and the twin aspect — it’s really hard to tell them apart — is much of their charm as principals of Twin Powers Wealth Advisors in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Most clients are retirees who have been with the FAs for several years. To be sure, these folks have been a rich referral source for the advisors since they launched their own shop in 2017.
An affiliated practice of Raymond James Financial Services, the firm manages $250 million in assets of high net worth clients, whose net worth averages $3 million to $5 million.
In the interview, the brothers, 51, talk about why they left Wells — an aversion to the bank’s incentivized cross-selling was one reason — and offer advice to other FAs about the challenge of going independent.
Twenty-five-year industry veterans, they started out with individual practices at regional brokerages. Joining First Union in 2000, they remained at the bank through its acquisition by Wachovia, followed by Wells Fargo‘s purchase of Wachovia.
After covering four bank branches in Palm Beach County, in 2008 the two merged their separate practices when they began working with Wells Private Bank.
Togetherness certainly has been the twin brothers’ theme throughout their lives. After graduation from the same college — Montclair State University — they both decided to pursue careers as financial advisors, relocating to Florida from their native New Jersey.
The twins — who like to describe themselves as “bookends” — have one apparent, though complementary, differentiator: Scott holds the certified financial planner designation; Gregg is a chartered retirement counselor.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the FAs in a three-way phone conversation. They not only finished each other’s sentences but sometimes even replied to questions in unison. The advisor brothers’ remarkable simpatico relationship is, they say cheerfully, “a twin thing.” Here are highlights of our interview:
THINKADVISOR: When you were babies, you were in TV commercials for Viva paper towels, a bank and others. Tell me about that.
GREGG POWERS: In one commercial, one of us was “Jack” and the other “Jill” with a bow in her hair. Our mom said she’s taking to the grave which of us played Jill.
SCOTT POWERS: I think it was Gregg. He’s still seeing a psychologist about it! Sometimes we appeared as one baby: If one of us was cranky, they’d [film] us [alternately]. We did commercials for two years and made pretty good money.
But why did you stop at age 2?
SCOTT: It became too hard on our mom taking us by bus from New Jersey to New York City, and there were three other siblings [to care for]. So our careers got cut short. We coulda been somebody! We coulda been The Doublemint Twins!
When you were kids, did you play pranks on people who couldn’t tell you apart?
GREGG: We were angels. We would never play tricks. We went to Catholic school — we were afraid of the teachers. We just sat there with our hands folded. We had to wear name tags so the teachers could tell us apart. Sometimes our dad even had a hard time with that. He’d just call, “Twinny, get me this, do that!”
Did you decide to become financial advisors at the same time?
SCOTT: Yes. We do everything together. We went to the same college [Montclair State University]. Playing football in high school, we were both wide receivers and both defensive backs. In baseball, Gregg was the shortstop; I was the second baseman. In basketball, we were both guards. We were always bookends!
How did you get interested in being financial advisors?
SCOTT: We had a cousin in the industry who lived in Florida. We gravitated to what he was doing and decided we wanted to get into the business and moved down from snowy NJ. We were very social, outgoing, honest and trustworthy. So we felt it was a good industry for us to get into. And we were good at math.
Where did you start out?
GREGG: In the 1990s, we traded stocks and bounced around a couple of regional firms. Then in 2000, we realized that wasn’t the wave of the future: You needed to raise assets and build an asset allocation model. So we joined the bank [First Union Brokerage Services], which [merged with] Wachovia, and then Wells Fargo [acquired] Wachovia.
How was the experience working there?
SCOTT: At one point, we covered four branches in Palm Beach County. We were recognized as two of the better advisors in the area. Then we went to Wells’ Private Bank in Palm Beach and no longer covered branches but worked with private bankers and higher net worth clients.
You were with the firm for 17 years. Why did you leave?
SCOTT: It was a lifetime goal to work for ourselves. We’d thought it was a good idea to join the bank where we could get referrals from bankers and raise assets. But as time went on, we felt Wells Fargo had a different agenda than we did. There was a big cross-sell [initiative]. We felt independence was more important to us to make sure we always put the clients first and that they had the right products we felt they needed.
Did you have uncertainty or compunctions about leaving the firm?
GREGG: There was a lot of [bad] news with regard to Wells Fargo’s [scandals] continuing to hit the papers. It felt like the time was right to make the move to Raymond James. We left money on the table — deferred compensation and a lot of bonuses. Money had never been an issue for us — [we believe] just do the right thing, and the money will always follow.
How was it to step out on your own?
SCOTT: Two other Wells advisors left the same day we did. It seemed a good opportunity to team up and split office expenses and have a little camaraderie, too. That took some pressure off.
How has it worked out?
SCOTT: Very well. We share office space and other expenses [but not revenues] with them and some other advisors too. Now we have four separate entities in the branch. We’ve built a turnkey situation where we could continue to expand if we wanted to.
Do each of you — Gregg and Scott — specialize in different aspects of your practice?
GREGG: No. In school, we were equal in our [proficiency] at math and English [etc.] And we were like that later too. Even when we were in individual [FA] production [before partnering], there was a difference of only hundreds of dollars between us. We’ve always been competitive with each other — so much alike. [Now] Scott has the CFP. So I let him do some of the planning stuff, and I’ll just be the smile!
Do you ever argue with each other? Are there sticking points?
SCOTT: Rarely. When we were about 10 years old, we would battle it out. We had a brother who would battle us; so it made us kind of tough. But we don’t [fight] now. We’re best friends and inseparable. It’s a twin thing.
How do you prospect for new clients?
SCOTT: We don’t prospect anymore. We’ve received more referrals from our existing clients in the last three years than we did in our numerous years at the bank. Our clients want to see us succeed as business owners rather than see our old big bank succeed.
How have your clients — most of whom are retired — reacted investing-wise amid the pandemic?
GREGG: There was a little hand-holding during the March-April correction. Some were getting a little spooked: You had to walk them off the [edge] and keep them invested. But this isn’t our clients’ first rodeo: Most of them have been with us for a while; and they, kind of, understand [market declines]: They went through the 2008 crash and the 20% drop at the end of 2018.
Since the pandemic hit, have you been meeting with clients on Zoom?
SCOTT: No, mostly by phone. Our clients know we’re handsome guys — they don’t need to see our faces! But it’s a little tough with the elderly ones in nursing homes. We’d always visit them, and now we can’t. But they’re looking into reopening, and that’s nice.
What’s your advice to other advisors about going independent?
SCOTT: Be prepared. It’s fear of making the move more than anything [that causes hesitation]. You get a little comfortable where you are, but [going independent] is really the right thing to do. It’s a lot of work: We had a pretty big ship to move. Just make sure you have strong relationships with clients. The big institutions have different agendas; firms like Raymond James give us the independence to do what’s right.
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