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Giving Up Personal Security to Tend to the Financial Security of Others

After leaving Merrill Lynch in 2021, Industry Advocate of the Year Nominee Jacky Petit-Homme took a risky leap to become a founding partner of Liberty One Wealth Advisors.

In the run-up to the inaugural RIA Intel Awards in September, RIA Intel will publish Q&As and other short features highlighting the accomplishments of this year’s nominees and Rising Stars.

When Jacky Petit-Homme left his stable career at Merrill Lynch in 2021, he wasn’t sure that his new Philadelphia-based wealth management firm — Liberty One Wealth Advisors — had been the right move. The firm now has about $75 million in assets under management and serves roughly 120 households.

A first-generation son of Haitian immigrants, Petit-Homme reflects on the lessons he’s learned in his new role. Responses have been edited for clarity and length. 

What’s the biggest challenge and opportunity that you’ve faced in your financial career?

The toughest challenge was deciding to go independent last September. I and my two partners were at a big Fortune 500 firm that provided us with a salary and a lot of support. I was taking a leap and hoping that the relationships I had built with our clients would be strong enough to see us through. It definitely worked out better than any of us could have imagined. We were able to add a fourth CFP to the team in less than a year, and we’re also building a pro-bono financial planning service, so that people can come in and have their financial questions answered. 

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What are some of the trends that you’re currently seeing in the wealth management space?

When I first started, it was like, ‘What’s your portfolio? What’s your asset allocation? What’s your performance?’ Now, prospective clients are asking, ‘Can you help us with our tax planning? Can you speak to estate planning? Can you speak to our insurance plan?’ Clients are looking for more than just the investment piece; it’s now about the full financial picture, because at the end of the day, the investment piece is just a small portion of their overall financial health. It’s now about what you can do to give your client some peace of mind about their entire financial life. I tell a lot of my clients that our goal is to be the CFO of their family. When it comes to a financial decision, no matter small or large, I want them to think of me first.

Can you tell us about your advocacy efforts?

From an industry perspective, I’ve advocated for widespread financial literacy education, especially in marginalized populations. I’ve worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, local parent groups, and organizations hosting seminars, and I’m currently building a syllabus for a nonprofit designed to make financial literacy more accessible, which I’m trying to launch by the end of 2023. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Jacky Petit-Homme's last name, it is Petit-Homme not Petite-Homme.

The inaugural RIA Intel Awards is a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Results will be revealed at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Metropolitan Club of New York, September 14, 2022. Click here to sponsor or register for the event.

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Caitlin Keating (@Caitkeating) is a freelancer at RIA Intel and based in New York City.

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