Ex-UBS Star Findley Hires Ten Former Staffers for New RIA
Craig Findley, the celebrated UBS Financial Services broker in Ohio who was dismissed in April for non-client-related policy violations, has recruited ten members of his former 36-person team to work at Venture Visionary Partners, the investment advisory firm he registered in late May.
“We already have several hundred million dollars” of assets, he said of his new firm in Sylvania, Ohio, near Toledo, “and several hundred million have committed to transfer to us.” Clients have been “amazing,” he said, noting that one is letting his team use temporary space as his RIA builds its new office. (The effective registration date of his new RIA was June 21, according to a regulatory filing.)
Findley was responsible on his account number for about $1 billion of customer assets and $6.5 million of annualized production at the time of his departure from UBS, he said.
The Touchstone Wealth Partners group at UBS, which he founded with former partner Kenneth Wise, had $6.1 billion of customer assets, according to Barron’s 2018 ranking.
A UBS spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the status of remaining members of Touchstone, which has offices in Ohio, Florida and New York. Touchstone’s website lists 10 employees at its Sylvania office, including seven advisors, five in Florida (including Wise and his son, who also are listed as Ohio-office advisors) and four in New York (including two advisors).
Findley has signed a four-year contract with Dynasty Financial Partners for its core package of operational and back-office services, including access to service providers such as Black Diamond for asset and performance reporting and Dynasty’s own turnkey asset management platform.
His RIA is using Charles Schwab as its custodian and recommending that clients trade through the firm. He and other Venture Visionary’s advisers have held onto their Series 7 licenses for purposes of collecting trails and other commission products through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, the independent broker-dealer that specializes in servicing primarily fee-only advisors.
“I have been amazed at what is available out there,” he said of the open-architecture applications available to run advisory practices.
Findley would not discuss his UBS departure, which related to a staffer having signed his name on a training module attestation and some travel and outside business reporting irregularities, according to sources and filings with state regulators.
“UBS is a great firm,” he said. “I have a lot of friends there, and I don’t have anything negative to say.”
Over the years, however, when he considered his career future he gravitated toward running a “pure fiduciary” business through an independent practice, he said. Venture Visionary Partners will charge a maximum 1.5% annual investment management fee, according to its client investment brochure, and generally seeks a $500,000 minimum investment and discretion over account investments.
Findley said he is interested in adding “like-minded” advisers in the Midwest with a fiduciary bent to his team.
Touchstone employees who joined his firm this week include advisors Robert Retzloff and Brian Funkhouser, and retirement plan consultant John O’Brien. (Findley, whose father founded a pension consulting business, said corporate plans contributed about 15% of his group’s revenues at UBS.) In May, seven former Touchstone employees, including Findley’s longtime administrator Melissa Estrich, signed on to the RIA.
Retzloff, who joined UBS in 2016 from Morgan Stanley, will serve as Venture Visionary’s chief operating officer. Funkhouse, who began his brokerage career in 1992, moved with Findley and Wise from Merrill Lynch in 2011. O’Brien first registered as a broker in 2007, and moved to UBS from Merrill in 2012.
When Findley and Wise joined UBS in December 2011, they were producing about $6.3 million on more than $800 million of client assets at Merrill, UBS said at the time. They expanded through a series of agreements with other UBS teams to include 36 people and 19 advisors, and late last year rebranded the Findley-Wise Group as Touchstone Wealth Partners.
Prior to joining Merrill for an eight-year stint in 2003, Findley worked for almost a decade at Smith Barney, according to his BrokerCheck history. He first registered as a broker in 1992 with Everen Securities.