Individuals – Asset Management/Portfolio Firms
Monali Vora of Goldman Sachs leads the portfolio management, product development, product strategy and technology-related efforts for a wide range of strategies and directly oversees customized client portfolios totaling over $89 billion in AUM. She has led the customized, tax-managed business, growing it from less than $100 million in assets in 2000 to more than $94 billion as of Dec. 31, 2020, across over 16,000 unique client accounts. Vora has served as co-head of the Consumer and Investment Management Division (CIMD) Women’s Network since 2018 and has served on the Goldman Sachs Women’s Network Operating Committee since 2014.
Bruce Bond of Innovator Capital Management and his PowerShares co-founder John Southard envisioned and created the Defined Outcome ETFs, the world’s first ETFs that provide investors with known ranges of future investment outcomes prior to investing. Other 2020 highlights include multiple successful resets at the end of the outcome periods, meaning the Buffer ETFs work as intended, providing investors with the range of outcomes advertised; maintaining significant liquidity through one of the most significant market shocks in modern history; and further confidence from ETF analysts and recognition that the funds achieved their outcomes and had a place in investor portfolios.
Manish Khatta of Potomac Fund Management made two strategic decisions over the last 18 months to fuel Potomac’s growth: 1) the creation of the Union UMA platform, designed to provide white-glove-service to sub-$100 million AUM advisors; and 2) the creation of the Conquer Risk funds, which allowed Potomac’s strategies to become available on numerous platforms such as Envestnet and SMArtX. Serving as president and CIO of Potomac, Khatta is a staunch believer that investment risk is something that can be contained and conquered by using quantitative trading systems. Potomac’s AUM has almost tripled in the past 13 months, growing to $430 million from $120 million.
Cheri Belski of T. Rowe Price is the leader of the firm’s U.S. retirement business, with $370 billion AUM. She serves on the Retirement Leadership Council, representing the largest book of business for the enterprise. The culmination of her leadership and thinking for the industry is T. Rowe Price’s new campaign: “Retirement. Meet Your Match.” She is also a leader in Diversity Equity & Inclusion. Belski focuses on identifying, elevating and retaining women at the firm. She spearheaded the Gender Dialogues with Management Committee to bring forward the conversation of the bias, inequity and solutions to investing in women.
Individuals – Broker-Dealers
Erinn Ford, Advisor Group’s EVP of Advisor Engagement, possesses an exceptional ability to connect with advisors. She was instrumental in conveying the benefits of the Advisor Group platform to KMS advisors as she steered the firm through Advisor Group’s acquisition of KMS parent, Ladenburg Thalmann, and subsequent integration efforts aimed at expediting advisors’ access to the full range of her firm’s technology and service offerings. Thanks in part to her leadership, overall retention results from the Ladenburg transaction exceeded the firm’s expectations. The results are the product of hundreds of conversations between dedicated leaders and the advisors who depend on them for guidance, support and stability.
Lon T. Dolber, CEO and president of American Portfolios Financial Services Inc., led the firm in new hires during the height of the pandemic. Despite 2020’s challenges, AP saw a 5% increase in total revenue, a 14% increase in advisory total revenue and a 12% increase in AUA. Dolber also is passionate about corporate social responsibility endeavors. The firm currently sponsors 12 NPOs. Through his leadership, AP has raised more than $1.02 million in the last 18 months for worthy causes. Dolber also serves as board president for the American Portfolios Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Dawn Cooper, EVP of service & operations at Ameriprise Financial, is implementing and enhancing digital capabilities to improve the experience for clients, advisors and employees. Her team is currently deploying robotics to process business at rapid speeds with more accuracy. Cooper and her team worked to enhance the service experience at Ameriprise. These changes put the firm in a position to earn a J.D. Power certification for the second consecutive year for providing ‘An Outstanding Customer Service Experience” when they contact the company by phone for assistance. She also co-chaired the Ameriprise Women’s Interest Network and invests heavily in developing female leaders through mentorship.
Steve Stroker, managing director of Black Creek Capital Markets (now Ares Wealth Management Solutions) with more than 36 years of experience, has been influential in shaping Black Creek Group’s capital raising strategy. In 2020, the firm raised more than $1.5 billion in capital. Additionally, since the start of 2020, he grew the sales team by 20%. He focuses on helping advisors build and grow their businesses using Black Creek products. He also cultivates a collaborative partnership across the firm with the marketing and product management, investor relations, strategic accounts and institutional teams working together to ensure a best-in-class investment experience for advisors.
Amy Webber, CEO of Cambridge Investment Research Inc., has spent the last 20 years establishing a flexible business model, a committed senior leadership team, a detailed legal structure and a formal succession plan. Webber has a unique connection with female financial professionals, and she hosts Cambridge’s Women Advisor Forum while also serving as a mentor to many individuals. In terms of advocacy, she continues to be active with continuous legislative engagement for the independent advice channel. With Webber’s leadership, Cambridge’s culture and strategic planning have allowed the firm to remain stable during some of the most significant market downturns.
Eric Schwartz is founder and executive chairman of Cambridge Investment Research, a financial solutions firm, as well as an independent broker-dealer and RIA, serving thousands of independent financial professionals. Under Schwartz’s direction, Cambridge introduced a hybrid model that supports freedom of choice and open architecture fee and commission platforms without compromising the needs of the independent financial professionals. Schwartz has worked closely with chief executive Amy Webber, as well as with senior leadership, to ensure the firm retains its internal control. Today, Cambridge is one of a few large broker-dealers without parent or private equity ownership.
Dan Arnold is president & CEO of LPL Financial. Under his leadership, LPL has undergone a cultural and digital transformation that has created a mission-aligned and empowered workforce, an agile environment that nurtures innovation and value creation and a modernized operating platform that is flexible and scalable, giving LPL the ability to act nimbly, scale quickly and personalize the experiences with its clients. During Arnold’s tenure, assets under management have doubled, surpassing $1 trillion as of April 30, and earning the firm a spot on the Fortune 500 for the first time. In 2020, LPL reported record revenue of $5.9 billion.
Kirstin Hill of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is the first female executive to be named chief operating officer in the more than 100-year history of the firm. In 2020, Merrill advisors added 22,000 net new households, four times pre-2017 household acquisition levels. In 2021, Merrill surpassed $3 trillion in client assets for the first time. Over the past 18 months, Merrill has gone through a digital transformation under Hill’s leadership. This has resulted in reaching and sustaining the firm’s highest level of client satisfaction in history. Hill is also a D&I champion both within the firm and externally.
Adam Lampe, CEO and co-founder of Mint Wealth Management, has helped high-net-worth individuals, families, foundations and institutions work toward their goals through holistic financial planning. Alongside his work serving clients, Lampe also teaches retirement planning courses through Lone Star College and Prairie View A&M University satellite campuses. Lampe has maintained positive client relationships while navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, a Texas snowstorm and a heated political season. He has been extremely responsive to the concerns and needs of clients, from transactions to layoffs. He works extremely hard to provide a safe working environment for his clients and staff.
Evamarie Schoenborn, president & CEO, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management, in 2020 launched an internal communication to provide guidance to keep people anchored to a common mission while working remotely. She used a similar approach following the death of George Floyd in May 2020. From her leadership platform, she delved deep into what it means to be anti-racist and how to be an active ally. Schoenborn also turned to people of color on her team to share their own perspectives. This effort continues today as she pushes her team and herself to do the self-work that is critical to creating a diverse and inclusive company. (Photo: Northwestern Mutual)
Tash Elwyn, president and CEO of Raymond James & Associates, found creative ways to give back during the onset of the pandemic. He started a pop-up pizzeria in his backyard, making pizzas with his family to help lift spirits and raise money for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. He later held a barbecue fundraiser with the same purpose. He serves on numerous boards, including the Raymond James Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. He mentors others through the University of South Florida’s Corporate Mentor Program, Raymond James’ Women’s Inclusion Network’s Mentor Program and the firm’s Black Associate Mentoring Circle.
Individuals – Fintech/TAMP
Matt Brown is founder, CEO and chairman of CAIS. With the onset of the pandemic, he helped enact a business continuity plan and focused on safety, while individual teams continued to engage advisors and asset managers. To help advisors stay informed, CAIS created market volatility fund update videos and a new CAIS IQ set on Covid and added inter-monthly reviews by Mercer for all hedge funds on the CAIS platform. They also launched new advisor products, such as digital assets and an expansion of CAIS’ tax-advantaged solutions, to include 1,031 exchanges complementing the firm’s qualified opportunity zone offerings.
David Knoch, CEO of Docupace, brought two decades of experience in the financial advice sector to the firm in April 2020, after ending his tenure as president of 1st Global. At Docupace, which provides cloud-based digital operations software for wealth management firms, he has spearheaded a transformation of a company that was seen as a sleeping giant. This included serving new industry verticals, bolstering company leadership and culture, and executing an acquisition strategy centered on best-of-breed fintech providers. He is focused on leading a “back office revolution” for financial professionals and advisors.
Bill Crager, co-founder and CEO of Envestnet, has helped transform the firm from a turnkey asset management program to a unified advice platform, and now a financial wellness and personal finance ecosystem, connecting actionable data, technology and solutions to enable an intelligent financial life. To accelerate delivery of this, Envestnet acquired Harvest Savings & Wealth Technologies, which allows the firm to leverage its bank relationships and brings capabilities that open all of a bank’s accounts to their addressable market, for example, savings accounts as launch points for people to plan for their future, enabling micro-savings that can connect to investment accounts.
Scott MacKillop, CEO and founder of First Ascent Asset Management, started the firm in 2016 with goal of altering the TAMP business model for the benefit of advisors and their clients. FAAM passed the $1 billion mark in AUM/advisement in March 2021, accomplishing this with only seven full-time and two part-time employees. Over the past two years, FAAM has launched a series of ESG portfolios and the 401(k) Resource Program for advisors serving retirement plans. MacKillop was recently named an ambassador for the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard based on his efforts to educate advisors on fiduciary and regulatory topics.
John Lunny is CEO of Vestmark, a provider of portfolio management software and trading solutions. In 2020 and 2021, Lunny helped forge a strategic partnership with Axos Clearing that empowered the firm’s broker-dealer and RIA customers with access to the VestmarkONE platform, while a collaboration with Redi2 enabled VestmarkONE users to access new scalable billing tools for managed accounts. Vestmark also created a solution that enabled UBS Wealth Management USA to expand its offering of zero-fee separately managed accounts and provided its advisors access to model portfolios from top asset managers. This simplified delivery and management for both groups.
Individuals – Other
Catherine Keating, CEO, BNY Mellon Wealth Management, recognizing that Americans now are responsible for their own retirement, with her team developed a philosophy called Active Wealth, based on five practices: investing, borrowing, spending, managing taxes and fees, and protecting assets and legacy. They advise clients through a methodology of institutional frameworks and disciplines used by CFOs and CIOs. The team has been able to calculate the value of each practice, allowing investors to quantify the advice they receive: an annualized 2%-5% of greater wealth accumulation. Keating also believes that diversity leads to better investment and business performance, with women comprising half of BNY Mellon’s employees.
Debra Guarino, managing director of regulatory risk and electronic control for BNY Mellon Pershing, leads the large-scale regulatory SEC initiative, the Consolidated Audit Trail, which requires reporting of significant order, execution, allocation and client information to allow for additional transparency and clearer ownership in the marketplace. To achieve compliance for the firm and provide a CAT reporting service for Pershing’s clients, she guided technology and business team members over 18 months to deliver a solution to some 300 introducing broker-dealers in April 2020 to ensure they could meet phase one of CAT reporting. It allows clients to be compliant without developing their solution.
Andrew Salesky, senior vice president of digital advisor solutions for Charles Schwab, is working to merge the custody platforms: Schwab and TD Ameritrade. He is spearheading efforts to create a new Schwab Advisor Center that will be the “better of both” platforms. Efforts to digitize the entire advisor/client experience began before 2020, but the past 12 months have been used to motivate behavior changes for advisors and their clients. Now, digital adoption is at all-time highs across Schwab’s RIA client base. Also, most new clients are enrolled in Schwab Alliance within 30 days versus just two-thirds at the start of 2020.
David Lau, founder & CEO, DPL Financial Partners, pioneered the idea of commission-free insurance for RIAs at Jefferson National and then started DPL, which now offers more than 40 commission-free products from 20 carriers and partners with RIAs to meet the retirement needs of their clients with lower costs and increased transparency. Under Lau’s leadership, DPL has introduced a new model for RIA practices that lets them compete by better serving clients with a comprehensive suite of retirement income and insurance products. He also has helped DPL secure $26 million in equity capital from Eldridge and Atlas Merchant Capital.
Sheryl O’Connor, CEO & co-founder of IncomeConductor, has two decades’ experience in building companies and teams that has taught her to look beyond the day-to-day challenges of her startup and build a large network of associate executives, experts and associates across the industry. Not long after co-founding her firm in 2017, a retirement income platform that provides a suite of support to advisors who want to redefine their value proposition as retirement income professionals, she received first prize in the FFiT Female Founders in Fintech global competition. O’Connor received further recognition as one of the Top 50 “Inspiring FinTech Females 2020” by NYC FinTech Women.
Individuals – RIAs
Jonathan Straub, founder and principal of AdvicePeriod, pioneered a strategic initiative to engage next-generation leaders within the company called Project+. AdvicePeriod tapped 12 teammates to engage in the initiative’s development through a series of working-group sessions. They created goals for five key areas of the business, then shared these with the entire team. The upshot is a firmwide sense of inclusion, whereby the entire team can provide ideas, take the lead on projects and offer insights into areas outside their regular job duties. Also due to the pandemic, Straub proactively migrated AdvicePeriod to a cloud-based tech stack, enabling seamless work-from-home functionality.
James Maher is CEO and founder of Archford, which offers a suite of wealth management services, reflecting Maher’s background as an attorney, financial advisor and CPA. Recently, the firm launched its Archford Accounting division by acquiring two local accounting companies to assist its clients with records and tax management. Its Archford Family Library organizes data in a Dewey Decimal-type system managed by a personal librarian to help clients keep important documents organized in a secure online portal. In anticipation of tax changes in 2021, Maher has hired tax and accounting experts to help businesses and families position themselves and their finances accordingly.
Kelley Downing, executive chair, wealth advisor, principal, Bartlett Wealth Management, was the first woman to hold a leadership position at Bartlett & Co. when she was promoted to president and CEO in 2007. She has used her platform to lift the next generation of female leaders inside Bartlett and in the community. During her tenure, Bartlett became a partner firm of Focus Financial Partners. In 2019, Downing led the search and merger with a $1.5 billion Chicago firm to become a $6 billion company. As executive chair on the firm’s management committee, she developed a team approach to client service, creating greater continuity with multi-generational client relationships.
Shannon Eusey, CEO of Beacon Pointe Advisors, since founding it in 2002, has led the firm through two major recessions. When the pandemic struck, she oversaw a 24-hour immediate transition to a fully remote work environment with no disruption to clients and a minimal adjustment for employees. Eusey, a strong advocate for gender diversity, founded Beacon Pointe’s Women’s Advisory Institute to promote financial education. The firm consistently exceeds industry averages for gender diversity, with women holding senior or executive positions in every department and women making up more than 45% of employees.
Hamesh Chawla is chief product & technology manager of Edelman Financial Engines. In 2020 Hamesh completed the firm’s unified digital experience for all planners, clients and prospects. The planner platform was built mainly in-house, including its own financial planning software. The team also customized Salesforce to create the firm’s own customer relationship management system. Through improvements in machine learning and cloud computing, clients can complete basic paperwork more efficiently, allowing the advisor and client to get to meaningful conversations more quickly. Early in the pandemic, Chawla helped advisors become comfortable with remote work, deploying tools such as DocuSign and Genesis Cloud to reduce the administrative effort.
Mark Matson is the founder and CEO of Matson Money, a $9.39 billion AUM (as of May, 12, 2021) asset management and advisor coaching firm that provides outsourced investment management, education and tools to over 500 advisory practices across the U.S. Matson manages funds of funds, adhering to a disciplined, structured investing methodology which integrates Nobel Prize-winning academic investing principles, leading behavioral science, and financial coaching to help investors achieve peace of mind around their money while pursuing their life’s purpose. Since Matson Money’s inception in 1991, the firm has made an effort to help thousands of advisors and their clients rethink investing and transform their relationships with money.
Edward Deutschlander, CEO of North Star Resource Group, has held many roles, from advisor to recruiter. After becoming CEO of North Star in 2016, he set a goal of 152,000 clients and 252 financial professionals by 2022. He believes in investing in young people and teaches that those who succeed will have the resources to become elite members of the industry. His efforts won him Securian’s recruiter of the year award every year he was eligible. His 2018 white paper published by LIMRA provides 10 conclusions for advisor teaming and adoption that could turn into action for companies, firms and senior advisors looking to hire for success.
Stuart Katz, chief investment officer, Robertson Stephens, has created and shaped an investment office and strategy that have been instrumental in honing the firm’s reputation as innovative, nimble and fiduciary-minded, poising it to attract top talent and a diverse client base. The Investment Office’s mission is to preserve and grow client wealth through a detailed financial plan focused on near-term objectives, long-term goals and client values. Three pillars of service empower the firm’s client portfolio: grow assets, reduce expenses and mitigate risk. He and his team achieve this through holistic solutions built with a rigorous investment process and targeted data analytics support.
Michael Carvin is CEO of SmartAsset, which in April 2020 in response to increased demand for financial advice, launched Live Connections on its platform. This is a client matchmaking program for advisors that delivers high-intent, validated consumer prospects via a warm phone transfer to RIAs and firms. Live Connections reduces advisors’ marketing burden by eliminating the time they spend prospecting, contacting and following up with consumers, enabling them to grow their practices while maximizing the time they spend with clients. This follows the firm’s 2015 launch of Captivate, an advertising network that allows publishers to algorithmically embed tools and data visualizations into relevant content.
Haleh Moddasser is senior wealth advisor and managing partner of Stearns Financial Group. With a practice devoted primarily to women, Moddasser is on a mission to spread a message that women have the power to do good for society while doing financially well for themselves. Her research revealed that no matter their political affiliation, women want their investment dollars to change the world, but a significant knowledge gap exists on how to accomplish this. Her research formed the basis for her 2020 book, “Women On Top: Women, Wealth & Social Change.” To close the knowledge gap, Moddasser launched an initiative focused on environmental, social and governance investing.
Ken Van Leeuwen, founder & CEO of Van Leeuwen & Co., provides overall strategy for the firm and serves as a personal financial advisor for his high-net-worth clientele. He also mentors younger advisors. Looking ahead, he’s intent on attracting the next generation of talent who will embody the firm’s values of compassion and always caring about clients. When the pandemic shut down the economy, the firm regularly reached out to clients through phone calls, email and virtual meetings to assure them that someone was looking out for their interests. On occasion, they even have delivered groceries and other essentials to older clients who were feeling most vulnerable.
Jeff Pierce, CEO, Wipfli Financial Advisors, at the outset of the pandemic, kept his team on track through conversations with every individual, including over 20 virtual coffee chats and six monthly town halls. He also championed an expansion of firm benefits, including maternity and paternity leave and a shift to flexible time off. He also helped build and now leads a new industry and service offering that combines expertise from Wipfli Financial and its affiliate Wipfli LLP, a top 20 accounting and business consulting firm, moving the organizations closer through the Private Client Group to align clients’ values and aspirations with innovative, holistic financial planning.