The Real Truth About Business Ownership from a $600M Ex-Morgan Stanley Advisor

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A conversation with Lee Korn, Principal, Opal Wealth Advisors

When Lee Korn and his partners left Morgan Stanley in January of 2019 to launch their independent firm Opal Wealth Advisors, the thought of managing through an unprecedented health and financial crisis wasn’t even on his radar.

And that’s a good thing—because as he shares, pulling together all the moving parts that go into building a firm is a task that takes time, energy and a good amount of learning as you go.

So with over a year of building a solid infrastructure, Lee and his team can remain focused on what’s most important right now: Communication with their clients.

And as independents, they can do so without the constraints they felt as employees—now having the ability to deploy messages quickly and creatively, a benefit they are realizing particularly through this crisis.

In this episode, Lee talks about working through the crisis—but it’s his discussion around his recent journey to independence that’s most compelling, including:

  • What key drivers propelled Lee and his partners to build their own firm—and the options they considered before choosing to take the RIA path.
  • The threshold questions they asked themselves when considering their leap—and the one important question they asked of each other afterward.
  • The 2 years of planning they undertook before making the leap—and the team of consultants they pulled together to help them define their strategy.
  • How they decided upon a single custodian vs opting to go multi-custodial—and what he sees as the real value a custodian provides.
  • The importance of “speed to market”—and how that’s something they could not achieve as employees of Morgan Stanley.

With just over a year of hindsight, Lee is able to share an honest and concise roadmap for the independent journey. As he shares, “Launching your own business is not for the faint of heart.” Yet it’s apparent from this conversation that Lee and his team embarked on this journey with a great deal of heart—and it’s that which will drive them towards success well into the future.



Listen to additional episodes in this series

Lee Korn is committed to seeing clients succeed. He loves to brainstorm ideas to arrive at the best solutions—and he stands side-by-side with clients to help make sure those solutions are effectively implemented. In particular, Lee enjoys assisting business owners in identifying opportunities and strategies to take their companies to the next level. With a forward-thinking outlook, he also helps Opal remain at the forefront of the financial planning industry.

Before forming Opal Wealth Advisors with partners Jesse Giordano and Joe Filosa, Lee co-founded the 360 Group at Morgan Stanley where he was a Financial Advisor and Family Wealth Director. In 2009, Barron’s named him as one of the top 1000 U.S. Financial Advisors. Previously, he worked at Edward Jones as a personal wealth manager. He began his career as a commercial banker helping successful business owners raise capital for acquisition and expansion.

Lee graduated from Queens College in New York City with a degree in accounting. Active in his community, he has volunteered extensively with special needs organizations. Lee has a strong commitment to helping children develop good values along with leadership and life skills. He is a Cub Scout Cubmaster and an active board member at his temple.


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