At Dakota Wealth Management, Culture, Diversity, and Employee Equity Help Grow a Thriving Business.
Peter Raimondi, nominee for RIA Intel CEO of the Year award, and Chief Experience Officer Carina Diamond, nominee for Industry Advocate of the Year, have helped create a firm that reflects their beliefs about how an employee-focused business should operate.
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.
Peter Raimondi and Carina Diamond both have long wealth management résumés, but both executives were searching for something different when opportunity came knocking. Raimondi launched Dakota — which today has roughly $2.6 billion in AUM — in 2018 after long, successful stints at Banyan Partners and the Colony Group. And Diamond, who had spent the better part of two decades as a managing director at SS&G Wealth, joined Raimondi when her own RIA, Springside Partners, was acquired by Dakota in 2019. We spoke with the two RIA Intel award nominees about their careers and their aspirations to make Dakota a special place to work. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What were you looking for when you left your earlier careers behind for a new chapter at Dakota?
Peter Raimondi: I wanted to avoid not working with people that I truly enjoyed and trusted. That’s where the name “Dakota” came from — it means “friends and allies” in the Lakota language. But I also wanted the new firm to be as employee-owned as possible.
Carina Diamond: I wanted to be able to continue to develop a diverse staff, with talent of all different ages, genders, and backgrounds. That was very important to me, because there is a lack of diversity in our business.
What made Carina’s RIA, Springside Partners, a good fit for Dakota, and vice versa?
Raimondi: What I saw in Carina was an acute awareness about what we both love about this business — and a rather determined attitude about avoiding what we don’t like. I also saw her as a real entrepreneur, a business-builder who’s excited about the future and willing to help me build that future.
Diamond: I wanted to partner with people who had a serious entrepreneurial and growth mentality, but I also wanted everyone who works with me to be a shareholder. I couldn’t do that in my prior life, and a lot of firms I talked to didn’t believe in that. Today, 90 percent of our employees have equity in the business, and that has been a meaningful differentiator in attracting and retaining talent. One of our primary value propositions is that we seek to create wealth for our clients and for our employee shareholders.
What are some of the challenges that you see down the road for the wealth management industry?
Diamond: I think the whole business needs to a better job of training this younger generation to develop relationships. Coming out of the pandemic, we have a whole generation of young people who aren’t getting the mentoring and experience that comes from sitting in on a meeting and seeing the nuances in someone’s face. That concerns me a lot.
Raimondi: I agree — we’re a mentoring organization, so there’s teaching going on in the offices all the time, whether it’s direct mentoring, or having younger members of the firm join us in a client meeting, where they can listen and watch and hear and understand what it takes to be a good advisor. In addition to that, the culture at Dakota is so important to what we do. We have fun at what we do, we have artwork, we play music in the office — it’s a very special place. But we now have people in offices across the country, so one of the biggest challenges is trying to make sure that our unique culture is spread uniformly across those offices.
The inaugural RIA Intel Awards are a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Winners will be announced on RIAIntel.com on September 14, 2022 and will be honored in-person at upcoming RIA Institute Forums.
Gary Perkinson is a Senior Staff Writer/Editor at Euromoney Institutional Investor.