This content is from: RIA Intel Awards

Three Big Questions: Part 1

Finalists and Rising Stars for the inaugural RIA Intel Awards explain why they’re closely watching the US consumer, viewing a coming recession positively, and longing for a full return to the office.

In the lead-up to the RIA Intel Awards, we asked several nominees and Rising Stars to share their thoughts on three key questions. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

I’m watching for…

Every RIA has hopes or fears that we’ll see certain economic events or signals in the next year. What are you watching out for?

Stephanie Link
Chief Investment Strategist, Hightower Advisors
Finalist for CIO of the year
Stephanie Link


Rate increases typically lag in getting into the economy by around nine months. While the economy is slowing this year from the rapid pace seen over the last two years, we have yet to feel the effect of the recent rate increases with more likely to come. Housing is seeing an impact currently – and will continue its downturn when looking at leading indicators like pending home sales – yet the consumer has remained resilient. Since the consumer is 75% of the US economy, this is top on my watch list. And then there are JOLTs and payrolls, which remain quite high and the buffer as to while I don’t believe we are currently in a recession. 
Wes Stillman
CTO, Visory (formerly RightSize Solutions)
Finalist for Most Innovative Technology of the Year
Wes Stillman

Because the SEC and insurance industries are driving the security requirements for RIA technology platforms, we anticipate additional regulations, and enforcement of those regulations, around cybersecurity. The SEC has dedicated many resources toward educating and training its examiners, and we’re seeing evidence of this in the types of exams being performed, and the rules being proposed. We are also watching the pace of cyber insurance applications and associated supplements around ransomware very closely. For the average RIA, all of this will result in an improved and secure IT platform (as well as inevitable workflow changes and costs associated with secure environments).
Vanessa Wieliczko
CIO, Partner, HoyleCohen
Rising Star
Vanessa Wieliczko


[As for greatest opportunities and risks I see coming,] the last several years have illuminated the importance of tried and tested principles we all know intellectually. The importance of diversification, discipline, and rebalancing. When certain segments of the market are hot, it’s easy for people to want to allocate to the latest winner, but as investors we know that’s not always tomorrow’s top performer. We invest substantial time into our diligence process and allocate fairly heavily to alternatives like private credit, real assets, and private equity. I see this trend continuing in 2023.

I respectfully disagree…

What is a popular opinion with which you disagree, and why?

Anders Jones
CEO & Co-Founder, Facet Wealth
Finalist for Most Innovative Firm of the Year
Anders Jones


I do not believe that the AUM business model–the consensus pricing model in the industry–is here to stay. With ever-increasing access to information, clients will realize that AUM-based pricing doesn’t align value received to cost paid, and will reject it in favor of flat or subscription fees. My contrarian bet is that in the next 10 years, the advice industry will shift to >50% of fees being paid this way versus asset-based or product-based.
Jonathan Satovsky
Founder and Chief Behavioral Coach, Satovsky Asset Management
RIA of the Year Less Than $1 Billion AUM
Jonathan Satovsky


The popular opinion seems to be that recessions are negative. However, I believe that they are healthy for periods of “creative destruction,” as Joseph Schumpeter described. Recessions are a reminder of the importance of holistic financial planning for multiple generations, and more importantly, set the tone for creating innovation throughout the economy to meet the evolving needs of the population.
David Goldman
Chief Business Officer, Pontera
Finalist for Most Innovative Technology of the Year

David Goldman


There’s a popular sentiment among investment advisors that inflation is the top risk for investors right now. While inflation is important to consider when providing advice, advisors should be careful not to have tunnel vision. Now is an important time to step back and provide a more holistic view of a client’s assets, including retirement accounts and more. If an advisor is not managing client retirement accounts, including held away assets such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s, there is a lot of missed opportunity to help deliver optimal client outcomes.

If we only make ONE change this year…

What is the single most important change RIAs need to make for the wellbeing of the industry?

Pete Dorsey
Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, Altruist
Finalist for Most Innovative Technology of the Year
Pete Dorsey

Succession planning. The RIA industry has come incredibly far since inception, with little generational turnover. Advisers need to be thinking about the generation of investors who the next generation of advisers will serve. With the average adviser pushing 60 years old, a clear succession plan begins with attracting the best talent and then having formal programs to keep and retain that talent.
Jason Van de Loo
Head of Wealth Planning and Marketing, Edelman Financial Engines
Finalist for RIA of the Year More Than $1 Billion AUM
Jason Van de Loo


Be more proactive on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. We will all benefit from building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry. We are seeing the changing face of wealth first-hand in our practice, and we believe it’s important to build a DE&I strategy that prioritizes employees, clients, and the community alike, while being more intentional about how our workforce and advice can reflect and address the unique needs of all our clients. To succeed, a DE&I program needs to create sustainable, accountable change with measured steps and quantifiable results to bring employees, clients, and community along on the journey to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.
Lorenzo Esparza
CEO and Founding Principal, Manhattan West
Finalist for RIA of the Year Less Than $1 Billion AUM
Esparza


We need to make the workplace better for our employees while respecting their desire to work from home. I genuinely believe we need to get back to a place where people come back to work.  We have a great business culture in America, and we are at our best when we come together. As a big advocate of building corporate culture, I just don’t think you can accomplish that level of connectivity when folks isolate and work from home. I think we need to see 2023 return to the pre-pandemic nature that existed before. That will help the industry and the economy because so many ancillary businesses suffer when folks are working from home. 

The inaugural RIA Intel Awards are a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Winners will be announced on RIAIntel.com September 14, 2022 and will be honored in person at upcoming RIA Institute Forums.