MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Wealth Enhancement Group ("WEG"), an independent wealth management firm that oversees $19.4 billion in client assets*, today announced the acceleration of its growth strategy and the initiation of the next phase of its creation of a fully digitized experience platform to support the firm's financial advisors and their clients.
Since 2013, WEG has emerged as one of the fastest-growing independent registered investment adviser (RIA) firms in the country, expanding by over $15 billion in client assets over the past seven years, including through acquisitions of 16 of the most recognized and successful regional independent wealth management businesses in the country. The firm, which has successfully completed 11 M&A transactions over the past 24 months, encompasses 150 financial advisors across the country, working under a national brand and a shared passion for delivering a comprehensive financial planning-based client service experience.
Jeff Dekko, CEO of Wealth Enhancement Group, said, "We're thrilled to take a major step forward in reinforcing our firm's leadership in driving growth and delivering an exceptional experience for advisors and their clients. By investing on a significant and targeted basis now in talent, technology and tools, we are placing our firm at the forefront of two emerging trends: First, the RIA space today is where the independent broker-dealer space was more than two decades ago, with a highly fragmented yet fast-growing industry landscape badly in need of establishing consistent operating, management and service best practices. Second, the recent wave of M&A-driven RIA consolidation will soon be eclipsed by the coming wave of consolidation among major RIA aggregators. We are determined to position WEG as the gold standard for how RIA firms should be run, while setting the stage for us to become the top acquirer of both RIA firms and larger RIA aggregators."
Bringing Aboard Top Leadership and Board Talent
WEG partnered with executive search firm Caldwell to source exceptional talent to support its digital strategy. The firm has made the following key new leadership and Board appointments, effective immediately:
- Terri Kallsen Named WEG's Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Kallsen served most recently as Executive Vice President, Investor Services at Charles Schwab in San Francisco. During her tenure, the firm ranked highest in overall investor satisfaction for three consecutive years in J.D. Power's U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study. She previously held senior management roles at First Command, USAA and Thrivent Financial. In her new role as WEG's COO, Ms. Kallsen will lead efforts to drive growth by identifying best operational practices and implementing organization-wide plans that allow the company to serve its financial advisors more efficiently and effectively, including the ability to offer advisors and clients access to a fully digitized service experience.
- Utkarsh Patel Named Chief Digital & Marketing Officer. Mr. Patel joins Wealth Enhancement Group from First Abu Dhabi Bank, where he led the organization's digital strategy, including identifying emerging innovation trends in the financial services industry and translating them into actionable strategic initiatives. Previously, Mr. Patel served in executive digital and technology roles at BBVA, Humana, Citigroup and American Express. At Wealth Enhancement Group, Mr. Patel will oversee all marketing-related functions, with the mission of leveraging data-driven analysis and insights to formulate and refine the organization's approach to client acquisition, onboarding and retention, including the construction of comprehensive digital marketing capabilities and a scalable, personalized client experience that delivers on their brand promise to simplify their clients' financial lives.
- A. Charles Thomas Appointed to WEG's Board of Directors. Mr. Thomas joins WEG's Board of Directors, with four total members of the Board. He is Head of Data Science and Growth Analytics: Microsoft Cloud + AI at Microsoft, and previously held executive-level data and analytics roles at General Motors, Wells Fargo and USAA. Mr. Thomas will provide his experience and expertise in digital transformation, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to WEG's Board to help the company augment its digital strategy and operations.
Ms. Kallsen, WEG's newly named COO, said, "I'm grateful for the incredible experiences and relationships that I have built during my tenure as a senior executive with Charles Schwab and USAA, and I am very excited to put all of it to work in supporting WEG and its extraordinary growth journey. Joining the senior leadership team of WEG presents an enormous opportunity to help redefine the independent RIA space, with our bedrock commitment to financial planning as the central discipline on which all advice, investments and other client service activities are built."
Mr. Patel, WEG's new CDMO, commented, "From the outset, it's been clear to me that the advisor-client relationship is viewed by WEG as the point of greatest value creation in our industry – as it should be. My mission of creating best-in-class digital marketing, lead generation and lead capture capabilities, and in supporting the rollout of a fully digitized, frictionless advisor and client service experience, will directly support the strength and vitality of the financial planning-based advisor-client relationship that is at the heart of all we do as a firm."
A. Charles Thomas said, "I'm honored and excited to join the Board of Directors of one of the most successful independent wealth management firms in the country today, and to offer my expertise and guidance, especially with data science, to help inform WEG's future growth strategy. Data offers a vast trove of information for all businesses – including wealth management firms – to utilize in driving richer insights into how they have performed in the past and, more crucially, develop foresight into how they can better perform in the future. I look forward to helping Jeff Dekko and his leadership team harness the enormous potential of big data, data visualization and artificial intelligence to further WEG's growth aims."
Towards the Future – The Art and Science of Client Relationship Management
Mr. Dekko continued, "I am thrilled to welcome each of these three exceptional leaders to our Board and senior management. They all recognize that WEG's purpose, at the end of the day, is to work together to improve our clients' lives by giving them the best possible advice. The reality is that taking care of clients is both an art and a science, and to provide clients the most value, both sides require excellence in execution."
"RIA firms and RIA aggregators alike need to streamline and automate the 'science,' including operations and technology, so that we – and our financial advisors – can devote more time, resources, attention and focus to the 'art' of building trusted relationships with clients. This is the approach we have taken since launching as a group of four advisors sharing one office, into a truly national firm with 33 locations across the country, managing more than $19 billion in client assets. As we look towards the future, we see tremendous continued growth opportunities for WEG, at a time when clients need and want financial planning-based expertise more than ever before, delivered through trusted professionals using traditional and digital platforms."
About Wealth Enhancement Group
Wealth Enhancement Group is a Greater Minneapolis-based independent wealth management firm offering comprehensive and customized financial planning and investment management services. Founded in 1997, Wealth Enhancement Group serves clients nationwide. Wealth Enhancement Group specializes in providing retail clients with the team-based expertise and resources they need to simplify their financial life. For more information, please visit www.wealthenhancement.com.
Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC (WEAS), a registered investment advisor. Certain, but not all, investment advisor representatives (IARs) of WEAS are also registered representatives of and offer securities through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial. Wealth Enhancement Group is a registered trademark of Wealth Enhancement Group, LLC.
*Wealth Enhancement Group and its Registered Investment Advisor, Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, have approximately $19.4 billion in client brokerage and advisory assets as of 7/31/2020.