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Advisor Innovations: Merit Financial’s Kay Lynn Mayhue on Plotting an Aggressive Growth Trajectory



In this episode, David Armstrong talks with Kay Lynn Mayhue, president of Merit Financial Advisors, about the $7 billion firm’s aggressive growth trajectory.. 

Kay Lynn discusses:

  • The strategy that’s fueled Merit’s aggressive growth rate since 2017.
  • Merit’s “hub and spoke” approach to acquisitions and partnerships. 
  • How Merit evaluates its acquisition prospects—and what will kill a deal.
  • The long search for a capital partner and learning which equity investors made sense—and which didn’t.
  • Why Merit separates client development from the advisor’s role and centralizes financial planning to accelerate organic growth.
  • Why technology is a significant part of Merit’s budget

Connect With Kay Lynn Mayhue:

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About Our Guest:

Kay Lynn Mayhue, CFP®, AEP®, RFC® serves as President of Merit, which oversees $4 billion* in RIA and brokerage assets under management. A seasoned veteran of the financial services industry with more than 20 years of service under her belt, Kay Lynn now shares her wealth of experience and refined leadership skills with the partners and team at Merit. She primarily focuses on the implementation of company objectives to advance Merit’s mission and to promote growth and profitability as an organization. She also oversees operations to ensure production efficiency, top quality, exceptional service, and cost-effective management of resources. Driven by results, Kay Lynn works tirelessly to implement, direct, and evaluate the organization’s operational and fiscal function and performance. Her critical expertise in succession planning has paved the way for countless advisors to achieve the future of their dreams, and secured Merit’s legacy as a firm that will continue to serve others for generations to come.

 


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TAMP Technology Changing The Onboarding Process with Scott MacKillop



In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Scott MacKillop, CEO of First Ascent to discuss TAMP services, differentiating themselves from the competition through the team they have and how their team works. Scott shares the benefits of technology within the business, both for the advisors they work with and within their own team, while revealing the problems that arise from a legal and fiduciary standpoint when advisors don’t understand the context surrounding TAMP and it’s uses with clients.

Scott discusses:

  • How First Ascent has adapted to a digital workspace and how they have benefited
  • Why they acquired a client onboarding technology to increase value
  • The value of TAMP for advisors and clients, including why advisors are looking for TAMP software, how it is implemented and what clients get out of the technology
  • The legal and fiduciary problems surrounding TAMP-based services used by advisors without consideration

Connect With Scott MacKillop:

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About Our Guest:

Scott MacKillop is the founder and largest shareholder of First Ascent Asset Management, LLC. Prior to establishing First Ascent, Mr. MacKillop served for 8 years as the President of Frontier Asset Management. Mr. MacKillop has also served as President of US Fiduciary Services, President of Trivium Consulting, President and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of PMC International, Inc. and President and Senior Vice President of ADAM Investment Services. Mr. MacKillop also served as an independent trustee of First Western Funds Trust.

 


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Advisor Innovations Podcast: Facet Wealth’s Anders Jones



Facet Wealth’s Anders Jones on Building a Hyper-Efficient Financial Planning Firm for the Mass Affluent.

In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Anders Jones, co-founder and CEO of Facet Wealth, to discuss the firm’s recent $100 million equity raise, how the business model of Facet Wealth has evolved from a buyer of clients’ business from other RIAs to a consumer-facing, subscription-based financial planning firm for clients who may not at first have the assets to sit comfortably at a more traditional RIA, and how the company is using technology to improve the efficiency of its over 100 in-house CFPs to the point where each advisor can take on more than twice the number of clients than the industry’s average. 

Anders discusses:

  • How Facet’s original intention of buying smaller clients from existing RIAs didn’t really work, and why that’s a testament to most advisor-client relationships.
  • How they’ve grown to 11,000 clients, 75% of whom have never had a financial advisory relationship, with an aggressive digital marketing strategy, taking in thousands of leads a day.
  • How Facet’s technology model creates highly efficient advisor workflows, separating prospecting and onboarding of clients from the responsibility of financial planners. 
  • How the firm plans to use its newest round of capital—not to hire more advisors necessarily, but to expand the service offerings into areas like taxes and estate planning.  

Connect With Anders Jones:

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About Our Guest:

Anders Jones is the co-founder and CEO of Facet Wealth. He is a venture partner with Argyle Ventures, and previously was on the business development team of LiveRamp, an enterprise data marketing platform, prior to its acquisition by Acxiom.

 


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19. CAIS’s Matt Brown on Connecting Advisors to Alternative Investment Managers



Traditional 60/40 portfolios are not delivering the returns clients are looking for, argues Matt Brown, a former financial advisor and now CEO of CAIS, an alternatives investment platform for wealth managers. In the current market, alternative investing has increased in demand, prompting advisors to look for more information on these investment options.  

In this episode, David Armstrong talks with Brown about how the CAIS platform works to connect financial advisors with alternative asset managers and strategies that are right for their clients. Matt talks about the role of alternative investments within the current market and the importance of education as investing continues to evolve.

David and Matt discusses:

  • How CAIS provides connections to facilitate investments in alternatives
  • Why alternative investments are increasing in popularity among advisors and clients
  • The importance of education when advisors implement alternative investing
  • The role for crypto and blockchain technology for CAIS. 

Connect With Matt Brown:

Connect With David Armstrong:

About Our Guest:

Matt Brown is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of CAIS. He has spent over 30 years at the intersection of wealth management, alternative investments, and platform design. He began his career as a financial advisor at Shearson Lehman Brothers and Smith Barney. In 2009, Matt founded CAIS, the first truly open marketplace for alternative investments, where financial advisors and asset managers can engage and transact directly on a massive scale. Financial advisors, the professionals we designate to oversee our economic futures, do not have the same access to alternative investments in comparison to large institutions. CAIS is changing that. Matt believes entrepreneurship is the major driver of economic and social change. He’s spent the better part of two decades working with Endeavor, the world’s leading organization for high impact entrepreneurs. During his tenure, he had the opportunity to mentor dozens of entrepreneurs from around the world, including Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Matt is honored to have been on Endeavor’s South African and Turkish Boards which ultimately led to a position on the Global Board of Directors. The experience deepened his belief that helping entrepreneurs build and scale their businesses promotes economic growth and prosperity. It’s Matt’s personal mission to ensure that anyone with a dream, and the drive to achieve it, have an equal opportunity to make it happen.


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18. Advisor Innovations: Mark Bruno on Billion-Dollar RIA



Ten years ago, the idea of a $1 billion AUM client-facing RIA was hard to fathom. Today, the $100 billion RIA is the new hurdle, and a few have already crossed it.

That speaks to the incredible growth and whirlwind of mergers and acquisitions in the independent advisory channel, and few have watched that transformation as close as Mark Bruno, Managing Director at Informa Wealth Management, the home of Wealthmanagement.com, Inside ETFs and Wealth/Stack.  In this episode, David Armstrong talks to Bruno about the past decade, what’s fueling the growth of the most aggressive RIAs in the market and what that means for RIAs who are poised to join in the frenzy. Mark also reveals the evaluation drivers behind determining a businesses value and discusses the question of what the flood of private equity money in the space means for the future of the industry.

David and Mark discuss:

  • His tenure leading media and industry research efforts at Investment News as associate publisher and at boutique investment bank Echelon Partners
  • The explosion of mergers and acquisitions over the past decade, and why the velocity of deals is increasing
  • What growth funding from “outside” investors means for the wealth management space 
  • What valuation drivers mean the most to acquirers and investors;
  • The potential timeline of private equity investors and what they bring to the table in terms of professional management and M&A experience;
  • His plans for RIAEdge, a new initiative to create a business community around professionally managed RIAs with research and small-scale events to examine and understand the valuation drivers and dynamics of the fast-changing industry.  

Connect With David Armstrong:

Connect With Mark Bruno:

About Our Guest:

Mark Bruno is Managing Director, Wealth Management at Informa Connect. In his role, Mr. Bruno focuses on the expansion and enhancement of the organization’s Wealth Management media and event properties, which currently consists of WealthManagement.com, Inside ETFs podcast and the WealthStack podcast. He is also charged with driving several innovative new community and advisor-based initiatives.  

In addition, Mr. Bruno is overseeing strategic partnerships and acquisitions to accelerate Informa’s growth within the financial advisor and wealth management communities. Mr. Bruno brings over 20 years of experience in the wealth management and asset management industries to Informa, including prominent leadership roles in industry media, research, and consulting organizations. 

 


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17. The Wealthtech Landscape with LPL’s Gary Carrai



In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Gary Carrai, former financial advisor, co-founder of Fortigent with Steve Lockshin, and currently executive vice president of LPL Financial in charge of third-party technology partnerships. Gary discusses the evolving affiliation options LPL Financial has opened for financial advisors and how he views the fintech ecosystem around wealth management, where he thinks LPL will turn next for fintech partnerships and his views in Cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence as it relates to financial advice. 

Gary discusses:

  • His career in financial services, including his early days as an advisor and selling his technology firm to Fortigent to LPL.
  • His current role overseeing wealth technology partnerships for LPL
  • What many advisors get wrong about their technology stack
  • The great bundled, to unbundled, to bundled again pendulum in technology ecosystems for independent advisors
  • How COVID-19 impacted financial advisors’ decision-making
  • LPL’s approach to cryptocurrency

Connect With Gary Carrai:

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16. Adam Holt on The Role of Technology for Advisors in Creating a Client’s Plan



Winners of Wealth Management’s 2021 Best Financial Planning Technology, Asset-Map  has grown from personal use cases to helping thousands of financial advisors make meaningful decisions to grow their business. 

In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by the CEO and founder of Asset-Map, Adam Holt. Adam shares why he started Asset-Map, and how its success reflects the need for advisors to expedite the process of explaining each aspect of a client’s financial plan. He discusses how automation has entered the financial planning industry and the influence of technology for current and future financial advisors.

Adam discusses:

  • Why he started Asset-Map
  • How technology impacts how financial advisors deliver financial planning services to clients
  • How Asset-Map removes the “set it and forget it” expectation for a financial plan
  • What the six L’s are and how they pertain to a client’s plan
  • Expectations of the next generation of advisors

Connect With Adam Holt:

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About Our Guest:

Adam Holt, Asset-Map’s Founder and CEO, was a financial planner frustrated by financial planning.

The long, research-packed reports he prepared for client meetings didn’t seem to engage clients or provide clarity. Adam realized that to better serve clients, he needed to help them focus on what matters most—making good financial decisions so they could reach their goals.

From that realization, Asset-Map was born. Created first as a tool used by Adam and his staff, his financial planning business became our software’s first success story as it grew by 300% revenue in three years and reached nearly $1 billion in assets in under a decade.

Today, Asset-Map is used by thousands of financial advisors across multiple currencies and languages to help families focus on what matters, make more engaged and confident decisions, and reach their financial goals.


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15. Ric Edelman Looks To the Future



In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Services (now Edelman Financial Engines) and the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals. Edelman discusses how he founded his firm with a focus on middle class savers when every other advisory firm was only looking for HNW clients, and grew the business $22 billion in AUM before merging it with Financial Engines. Stepping away this year from the firm he founded, he is now focused on investments based around technologies that he says will transform our lives, including blockchain, genomics and artificial intelligence, and is on a mission to educate financial advisors about cryptocurrency.  

Ric discusses:

  • How his earlier career as a journalist helped set him up for success as an advisor and entrepreneur. 
  • His views on the “holier-than-thou” critics of advisory fees based on AUM. 
  • Why he thinks this is the right time to step away from Edelman Financial Engines, even as he remains the largest individual shareholder. 
  • Why he convinced Morningstar and Blackrock to partner with him in launching the iShares Exponential Technology ETF (ticker: XT), the first of the thematic ETFs focusing on transformative technologies. 
  • How most financial advisors are failing in their fiduciary duties by ignoring the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a new asset class. 
  • Why he created the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals.

Connect With Ric Edelman:

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About Our Guest:

Ric Edelman co-founded Edelman Financial Services with his wife Jean in 1986. He sold a majority stake to Sanders Morris Harris Group in 2005 and merged the firm with Financial Engines, to become Edelman Financial Engines, in 2018. He helped Morningstar create the Morningstar Exponential Technologies Index from which iShares launched the Exponential Technology ETF (ticker: XT). He founded the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals to educate the financial services industry about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

 


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14. How To Invest Sustainably with Jay Lipman



Clients largely respond positively to values-based investing—when it can be explained to them. 

In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Jay Lipman, co-founder of Ethic, a direct-indexing investment platform for advisors. Ethic can demonstrate to clients how to construct portfolios that reflect their values, or demonstrate how far their current portfolios are from their personal ideals. Jay shares how Ethic provides advisors with comprehensive data about each company’s impact on different social and environmental issues.

Jay discusses:

  • How Ethic helps advisors dig deep into data based on the values and priorities of the client
  • The biggest hurdles advisors face when it comes to sustainable investing.
  • The trade-offs between “off-the-shelf” ESG portfolios and customizable portfolios when it comes to values-based investing.
  • The trouble with data and standardization when it comes to current ESG investing.
  • Why investment impact is an area where many investors want more information.
  • How Ethic’s founders started the company and the technology incubators and early investors that supported them.

Connect With Jay Lipman:

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About Our Guest:

Jay Lipman seeks to understand and simplify sustainable investing, climate change, human rights and how investing can be a driver of positive change.

At Ethic, the mission is to accelerate the global transition to sustainable investing. Jay works closely with investors to help them understand and craft their unique approach to sustainable and impact investing.

Jay has been named to Forbes 30 Under 30.


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13. LPL’s Tom Murphy on the Firm’s Efforts Toward Modernizing the Advisor-Client Relationship



In this episode, David Armstrong is joined by Tom Murphy, senior vice president of LPL’s advisory program. Tom discusses how LPL has augmented advisor services while the industry has evolved from facilitating transactional relationships with clients toward a more holistic planning approach, with all the inefficiencies and customization that requires. He gives an insider look into how LPL is arming advisors with investment and planning platforms to.

Tom discusses:

  • How LPL has helped advisors transition their relationships with clients.
  • What types of client investments fit best in a traditional brokerage service.
  • Why LPL’s model wealth investment platform is growing twice as fast as LPL overall.
  • How advisors are using LPL’s investment platform to customize portfolios for clients with a combination of sleeve-based models and the advisors’ portfolio decisions. 
  • LPL’s advice, and tool, for advisors looking to use digital marketing platforms for growth. 
  • How advisor technology does not have an innovation issue, but rather an adoption issue, and how it is incumbent on the platforms to help advisors better use the tools available to them.  

Connect With Tom Murphy:

Connect With David Armstrong:

About Our Guest:

Tom Murphy currently serves as Senior Vice President of LPL’s Advisory Programs within the Wealth Management Solutions team.  In this capacity he is responsible for the management and strategy of LPL’s fee based investment programs.  This includes the programs’ investment offering, technology capabilities and pricing.  Prior to this he has held a variety of investment product and advisory roles at LPL.
Mr. Murphy joined LPL Financial in 2006 from Wells Fargo where he held positions in both finance and investment product management.  He served on LPL’s Finance team for five years prior to joining the Wealth Management Solutions team ten years ago.
Mr. Murphy has a Master’s of Business Administration from the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.  He also has a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Santa Clara University.

This podcast is sponsored by LPL.