The 10 Most Valuable Insights from Breakaway Advisors

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Mindy Diamond


A collection of the top words of wisdom from those who shared their journeys to independence during year 2 of this podcast series



As we kickoff the new season of this series – with over 2 years and 55 episodes in the bank – we recognize that the extraordinary wisdom shared by our guests in the last year alone warranted some additional exposure. Plus, most any advisor considering a move to independence is hungry to hear firsthand the experiences of those who went before them.

It’s these insights that reflect what we’re seeing in the industry at large. That is, the impact of the convergence of 3 distinct phenomena in the industry: changing advisor sentiment, the reshaping of client expectations, and powerful retention efforts at brokerages to further tie advisors to their firms.

It’s a “perfect storm” of sorts that’s driving change throughout the industry and influencing movement at levels we’ve not seen in over a decade.

So we curated conversations from nearly 20 hours of interviews to deliver the top 10 – a special all-in-one-place, “best of the breakaways” episode – featuring the most compelling and candid discussions with those who have made the leap. And given the quality of conversations we’ve had with our many guests over the year, culling the information in this episode to just 10 sound bites was no easy task!

In each, you will hear the motivations – the pushes and pulls – behind the choice to leave the wirehouse world. And even more importantly, the risks they took and the rewards they found waiting on the other side. Yet what’s most striking is how each describes the impact of this confluence of change.

It’s a compilation that offers answers to some of the top questions advisors ask us—and much more…

  • What drove this young top-rated advisor and his team to leave Merrill and how they addressed a succession plan for an advisor nearing retirement—Michael Henley, Founder and CEO, Brandywine Oak Private Wealth
  • How the desire to serve clients with greater freedom, flexibility and control proved to be more important than the deferred compensation they’d leave behind—Margaret Dechant, CEO and Founding Partner, 6 Meridian
  • How a change in culture at Morgan Stanley served as a powerful driver—Steve Schwarzbach, Founder and Managing Partner, Icon Wealth Partners
  • Why serving a niche client base – particularly offshore clients – could be better managed in the independent space—Lisa van Walleghem, CEO and Founder, MAXIMAI Investment Partners
  • How the uncompromising need to do what’s best for clients, build long-term value and satisfy a strong entrepreneurial spirit served as a powerful motivator—Paul Pagnato, CEO Founder, PagnatoKarp
  • How a strong entrepreneurial bent and the belief that there was “a better way” to serve clients drove these two UBS breakaways to build an independent business—Bryn Talkington, Managing Partner, and Doug John, Founder and Managing Partner, Requisite Capital Management
  • How spinning off from a broker dealer offered greater opportunity and translated into 3x growth—Rob Nelson, CEO and Founding Partner, NorthRock Partners

We also looked closely at what has become a growing trend of those who broke from the leadership ranks of the brokerage firms—and the motivations that drove their decisions:

  • Chris Dupuy, who, after nearly 3 decades with Merrill Lynch, was one of the first senior leaders to join the independent movement by choice, and now holds a key role with Rockefeller Capital Management.
  • Jim Gold who left his role at Morgan Stanley to create Steward Partners, the quasi-independent model in partnership with Raymond James.
  • And Rob Bartenstein, who left Morgan Stanley to build the independent model Kestra Private Wealth Services.

Plus, industry thought leader Josh Brown of Ritholtz Wealth Management shares what every advisor should ask himself before he considers going independent—bonus content from what was the top episode of 2019.

These stories are inspirational and chock full of wisdom—painting a picture of a landscape that has been reshaped right before our very eyes. This is one episode you don’t want to miss.

Note: It is incorrectly stated in the episode that Rob Bartenstein hailed from UBS when he was actually with Morgan Stanley.


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