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High Returns Are Great. What Else Do You Offer?

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What You Need to Know

  • Weyrauch spent more than 28 years at TIAA before moving to Citizens.
  • He says moving to a relationship-based practice from a commission-based practice is great.
  • He calls for advisors to find ways to do something useful with those relationships.

Chris Weyrauch is head of wealth management at Citizens Financial Group — a financial institution with $188 billion in assets.

Weyrauch has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Susquehanna University and a master’s degree in business from Fordham.

He worked for TIAA for more than 28 years before moving to Citizens, in 2021. When he left TIAA, he was CEO of its life insurance company.

Via email, we asked Weyrauch a set of questions that touch both on his professional knowledge and on what he does off the clock.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?

There is so much change happening in our industry it’s hard to pick just one. Intergenerational wealth transfer from boomers to millennials will reach over $80 trillion by 2045, which presents significant opportunity for firms that can adapt to meet evolving needs and is an existential threat for those that can’t. Fintech investments accounted for $1 of every $5 of global venture funding in 2021, so capabilities and competitors are evolving faster than they ever have before.

But an important trend that I don’t hear as much about is how clients and advisors are opting in to new models and eschewing traditional broker-dealer based wealth management relationships. It’s not a new trend, but the pace is accelerating rapidly. Wirehouse market share dropped from 33% in 2010 to 26% last year.

We see this as an opportunity to align our own offer to appeal to clients seeking advice from advisors that understand their full financial picture and have their interests top of mind. We’re focusing our internal development and recruiting efforts on building a force of advisors that are skilled at cultivating client relationships built on financial planning.

2. How has it been changing recently and how do you expect it to change this year?

Cerulli is forecasting wirehouses will lose another 3% share by 2025 which means the pace of diminution is accelerating, not leveling off.

3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?

Advisors have been moving from commission-based practices to relationship-based practices for some time which is great. But they really need to think about where they can add the most value in those relationships. I’m still amazed at how many advisory practices are attempting to differentiate through investment management alone. Advisors that ignore the bigger picture of their clients’ circumstances are missing the boat.

4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?

ThinkAdvisor of course, as well as many other industry news sources. We have both organic and inorganic growth objectives, so we have several investment banking/advisory relationships that provide deep insight on what’s happening in the industry as well.

5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why or why not?

I’m preparing to get back in the office on a more frequent basis. The pandemic has subsided and our organization is excited to get back to normal by returning to the office. So, I’m back to exercising early in the morning in anticipation of going back to normal commuting again.

6. What’s your biggest hobby and what was the last event or activity you did related to it?

My biggest hobby is riding my Peloton every day. The joy of competing while getting a full workout and clearing the mind is addicting.

7. How about your latest community/charitable activity/event/cause?

My participation on the YMCA board during such a challenging time as it relates to gyms was rewarding. The Y is a wonderful organization that does so much good for the community and being able to help steer and ensure financial stability is something I valued.

8. What book are you reading now and why?

I’m currently rereading GRIT by Angela Duckworth. We are in the midst of expanding our wealth management organization and we rely heavily on finding quality people to bring into the organization. Finding people that have passion and perseverance to help us succeed is critically important and the book has served as a reminder to all of my field leaders as they search for top talent. Our success will depend on our culture and our culture will be defined by our people.

9. Any special holiday plans, activity or focus do you have for 2022?

My three daughters have reached adulthood and my window for quality family time is likely closing with the demands of a growing family. My wife and I have already set aside time for two family vacations with our daughters to ensure we take it in and make the most of 2022. When things settle further we will set our sights on something more ambitious.

10. Any other update or fact about you or piece of advice/wisdom you’d like to share with our advisor audience?

We should never forget that the product we’re selling to our clients is a trusted relationship reinforced over years by expert consultative advice. There aren’t any shortcuts to success.

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Chris Weyrauch (Photo: Citizens)