Seven Questions With Tony Sirianni: Steward Partners’ CEO, Jim Gold
AdvisorHub’s CEO Tony Sirianni sat down with Jim Gold, CEO of Steward Partners, and talked about the industry. Tony sits with established leaders of the largest firms, as well as up and coming disruptors, and asks them more or less the same questions, so Advisors can get a sense of how each firm addresses the same issues from different perspectives. Taken together, they are a very interesting collection of influential points of view, and display the diversity of opinions and conclusions in Wealth Management today. You may even get to know these industry leaders on a more personal level.
Q: Why did you get into this business in the first place?
A: I began my career in direct sales for several other industries. While I enjoyed what I was doing and had a knack for connecting with customers and my team, I wasn’t quite satisfied. When my wife, Elizabeth, found out she was pregnant with our second child, I set out to find a sales opportunity with greater upside potential for me and my little growing family, one that could leverage the sales and business skills I’d honed already. I knew with my energy, enthusiasm and hunger to succeed, nothing could stand in my way! It was then that I found my dream job in the Smith Barney Advisor Training program, in 1995—a place where I could use my financial acumen and people skills to help clients understand and manage their finances.
Q: Looking back at the changes over the last 15 years, which have been the most damaging to our business in your opinion? What have been the most exciting and positive?
A: The industry has gone through a century’s worth of changes in the last fifteen years alone. The most damaging, from my perspective, have been the numerous corporate financial scandals that have come to light. Each scandal further undermines the public’s faith in the investment community, corroding their trust in us and our services and making it harder for us to advise them. The overwhelming majority of advisors are hard-working, dedicated professionals who are fierce advocates for their clients, something often obscured by the stories of misconduct that investors hear in the news so often nowadays.
The most positive change has been the evolution in advisor choice. Just fifteen years ago there were far fewer options for advisors to run a thriving and growing practice. Today they can take control of their destiny with literally dozens of unique choices to meet their and their clients’ needs.
Q: How has your firm adapted to address the rapidly changing Wealth Management landscape?
A: Steward Partners is built on the foundation of that very landscape. Our team of experienced, committed advisors looked at the industry changing around them and saw the opportunity to create something that didn’t previously exist. We call it ‘Full-Service Independence’. Our advisors get the best of both worlds—they enjoy all the resources and the dedicated platform they’re used to from the big wirehouses, coupled with all the benefits of independence (better payout, more autonomy, and wealth creation through equity ownership). Most importantly, our model offers advisors all these benefits without the detriments of either business model!
Q: What part of the advisor business will never change?
A: After over two decades in the industry, I can confidently say that the value of thoughtful financial advice and the client-advisor relationship will never change. We hear chatter all the time about new ‘non-advisor’ offerings like robo-advisors that some say will replace advisors, but in truth, these are all just newer versions of online trading or no-load funds—innovations that we heard lots of noise about but which ultimately weren’t gamechangers. Folks with investible assets will always seek the advice and guidance of a professional advisor.
Q: What 3 things differentiate Steward Partners from the competition?
- Culture: We have a strict ‘no-jerk’ policy. Steward Partners has a family environment, we’re very protective of that!
- Equity ownership: Everyone at Steward Partners has equity in the company. This makes everyone an owner/partner. We want our entire team to win together!
- Full-service independence: The benefits of the wirehouse and independent models without the drawbacks of either. There’s no other company that truly provides this.
Q: Would you encourage your children to enter the Wealth Management business?
A: Absolutely! I’m the 8th of 11 children, and I was the first person in my family to go into wealth management. This is an amazing industry that gives you unlimited upside if you’re willing to work for it.
Q: What are your interests outside of the Wealth Management biz?
A: My family above all else. I count myself lucky to have been married for 28 years (and counting!) to my lovely, intelligent wife, Elizabeth. We have four children who are our pride and joy: Will (25), Conor (23), Kiera (21) and Braedon (19). We also have four dogs (3 bassets and a beagle) to keep life exciting at home!
Steward Partners Global Advisory, LLC maintains a separate professional business relationship with, and our registered professionals offer securities through, Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Steward Partners Investment Advisory, LLC.