This is a big one for me, both personally and professionally. I’m going to do something here that I’ve never done before – share my quarterly letter to clients of the firm. I do this out of immense gratitude for all of you, as readers, colleagues, fans, supporters and friends. Every day I get to live my dream and it’s all because of the support you’ve given this site and the incredible relationships I’ve been able to cultivate as a result of it.
I will never take that for granted and I’ll never forget it. Thanks for being here. – Josh
Pondering the Future on Our Third Anniversary
September 15th, 2016
“There’s a redemptive power that making a choice has rather than feeling like you’re an effect to all the things that are happening. Make a choice. Just decide what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you are going to do it. Just decide. And from that point, the universe will get out of your way.”
– Will Smith
Three years ago this week, Barry, Kris, Michael and I arrived at our new offices on Park Avenue in Manhattan for our first day of work at the newly formed Ritholtz Wealth Management. The launch of our own firm took years of conception and planning. It required the help, cooperation and patience of dozens of partners, vendors, clients and service providers. To this day, it demands the constant attention and alacrity of all our staffers, each and every day.
I’m proud to say that after three years in business, it is clear that we have built an organization of prosperity and permanence. Better yet, we have built a culture that every executive, advisor and employee eats, sleeps and breathes. Our culture permeates every decision we make and every action we take. The principles we were founded upon in 2013 are the very principles that have attracted like-minded professionals to join our cause and add their considerable talents to our efforts.
In today’s quarterly letter, I want to bring you up to speed with everything that’s been happening at RWM and to give you a sense of what we’re building, in order to serve you today and in the years to come.
Ritholtz Wealth Management is currently the sixth fastest growing advisory firm in America by assets under management. This is according to a study released this summer by Financial Advisor Magazine, which also noted that we’d broken into the top 400 firms by overall size. By the end of 2015, we’d grown our average account size by 30.67% and our total assets under management by 86.67%, according to the publicly filed documents the article cited.
I’m pleased to report that 2016, so far, has been yet another year of outstanding growth. The performance-reporting gateway we use for client accounts, Orion, compiles a monthly benchmarking study among the firms on their platform. According to the most recent data, we were ranked 40th out of 577 firms in overall dollar growth for the last 12 month period and ranked 20th in terms of percentage growth.
Needless to say, we have you to thank for much of this success. In return, we promise to continue earning the trust you’ve placed in us for the safeguarding of your future hopes and dreams.
It is also important to point out that behind all of the statistics I’m sharing, there is a very human effort taking place behind the scenes that makes it all possible.
Beginning last fall, we’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing advisors from around the country come aboard, bringing their passion and skills to bear for not only their own customers, but for our entire clientele. Whether we’re talking about corporate retirement plan expert Dan McConlogue, consulting on 401(k) plans, or accounting expert Bill Sweet, weighing in on the tax situations of our client households, the cross-pollination within the firm has been extraordinary to watch.
The entrepreneurial advancements being made every day by advisors like Joey Fishman in Portland, Oregon, Anthony and Dina Isola on Long Island and Alex Palumbo here in our NYC headquarters have added a vitality to the firm that is thrilling to be a part of. The introduction of institutional asset management, spearheaded by Ben Carlson, is yet another new avenue we’re excited to be headed down.
And, of course, the beating heart of everything we do is research, administration, trading and operations. In my admittedly biased opinion, Michael Batnick, Erika Mauro, Patrick Haley and Kris Venne are among the most formidable teams in the industry. They are working tirelessly to ensure a consistent and rewarding client experience for all of you.
In a meeting with one of our newest clients in Los Angeles earlier this summer, I got to have a fairly philosophical discussion about the future of the firm. A question came up about where I thought Ritholtz Wealth Management would be in three years, ten years and beyond. I must admit, while I had a general idea of where we were headed, I was short on specifics when thinking about a decade out and beyond. A firm that specializes in long-term financial planning, that does not have a long-term plan in place for itself, is a bit of an oxymoron. This conversation forced me to think a lot about our future.
The future of RWM is integrally important for you, our clients, given the task with which you’ve entrusted us. In light of this, I’ll share some of my thoughts on the topic as I close out this note.
One of the most important truisms upon which the firm was built is that incentives matter a great deal. This applies to how we think about markets and it applies to how we think about our business. As such, we unveiled our Milestone Rewards initiative in September of 2015. Today, I’m proud to announce that over 77 client households are about to be informed they now qualify for permanently reduced fees as a reward for their fidelity to their own financial plans and portfolios. Incorporating the best insights from the behavioral finance academic literature, we devised Milestone Rewards as a concrete step toward helping our clients get more out of their investable assets. We can’t wait to make these phone calls so we can relay the good news.
In the future, we look forward to extending this benefit to each and every client household as they pass their third anniversary with us. In a world characterized by excessive short-termism and limited attention spans, anything we can do to help investors focus on the long-term is a major victory.
Another idea we’re in the midst of tackling is succession planning. Getting back to the topic of incentives, we believe very strongly that employees who act like owners consistently make better decisions for longevity and wellbeing of an organization.
As such, we want to broaden out the ownership of the firm to include many of the hardworking and dedicated people I’ve discussed above. Michael, Kris, Barry and I would be honored to see our coworkers join us as partners in the years to come. Providing a path to equity ownership is part of our responsibility to current and future clients. This will ensure that our culture survives and thrives beyond the tenure of the original founders.
I’ll stop here and simply say thank you for being such incredible clients. Your continued commitment and feedback have been invaluable to us. Your enlightened participation in the process of planning and wealth management have made us better advisors. Thanks for a wonderful first three years, I believe the best is truly yet to come.
Joshua M. Brown
Chief Executive Officer, Ritholtz Wealth Management
The content above is meant for the intended recipient only and is not meant to be reproduced or distributed for any reason. Nothing in this informational commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any securities. All data contained herein is believed to be reliable at the time of writing but should not be relied upon as the basis for any independent decisions. All opinions expressed are the author’s own and are subject to change at any time.
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