In the run-up to naming the winners of the inaugural RIA Intel Awards on September 14, 2022, RIA Intel will publish short features highlighting the accomplishments of this year’s nominees and Rising Stars.
When Sara Wendt started at Miracle Mile Advisors in 2012, there were just four other people at the firm, but that figure has since grown to 42 for the now $2.9 billion AUM firm. This Rising Star spoke to us about her career and the opportunities and challenges that have come her way over the past year. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Have you come across any unexpected business opportunities in the last year?
A lot of my practice is focused on financial planning, and in volatile markets there are actually really good financial planning opportunities. One example would be a Roth conversion, where it makes sense to do the conversion when asset values are depressed, but the biggest one for me has been estate planning and being able to gift assets at depressed levels. I’ve also been able to grow my Spanish-speaking client base quite a bit. Spanish was my first language, but I’ve never specifically focused my practice on that demographic. But I live in L.A., and there are a lot of Spanish speakers here.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered over the past year?
When the markets are down, a big challenge for financial advisors is finding other ways to add value. Protecting your client’s assets is obviously a baseline expectation, but if you really want to be competitive in these types of markets, you have to find other ways to add value; you can’t just have better relative underperformance. So whether it’s using planning strategies that work better when asset levels are depressed, or just running through a client’s financial plans a little more often than usual, you want to make sure that the client is in a situation where they can still meet their cash flow needs without selling a bunch of equities at depressed levels.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
A good mentor can change the trajectory of your career. I was lucky enough to meet my mentor, Duncan Rolph, who is now my business partner, early on, when I first started at Miracle Mile Advisors. He taught me that age really doesn’t matter. Even as an intern, I was going to client meetings or pitch presentations and working alongside the partners at my firm, and that’s something I try to instill in my younger team members. I don’t really care what their title is — if they work hard and want to prove themselves, I’m willing to give them an opportunity.
The inaugural RIA Intel Awards is a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Winners will be on announced on RIAIntel.com September 14, 2022 and will be honored in-person at upcoming RIA Institute Forums.
If you have questions about the awards, please contact your relationship manager at II or RIA Intel.