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Wealth Enhancement Group’s high-tech, high-touch approach is a winning formula for both their advisory network and their clients
By the time you read this, Wealth Enhancement Group (WEG) will be handling around $53 billion in client brokerage and advisory assets. That’s up from the $22 billion they oversaw at the end of November 2020. That 140% growth rate is the result of robust organic growth, a more than 97% client retention rate that keeps referrals coming, and prescient moves to make the most of the industry’s fast-moving trend toward consolidation.
With one of the most comprehensive marketing, advice, operations, and technology platforms in the independent financial investment space, the Minneapolis-based registered investment advisor (RIA) is structured to fully support individuals, families, and businesses throughout their investment life cycle, while attracting some of the best talent in the industry and bringing a rising number of smaller advisory firms into the fold.
Through their RIA, the firm follows the SEC fiduciary standard of care, which obliges them to do the absolute best thing for their clients. That’s a stark difference from the suitability standard, which is more of a “do no harm” commitment that compels financial advisors to dispense investment advice based on client demographics such as age and resources, as well as the fees the advisor might command.
“We offer financial management, retirement planning, wealth management, insurance, and various types of financial support to help people reach their goals,” said Terri Kallsen, the firm’s COO. “We do it in a partnership way, focused on what’s in their best interests.” Prior to joining WEG, Kallsen held senior executive positions with Charles Schwab and USAA.
Tax services, estate planning documentation, cash flow management, and insurance needs are also covered all under WEG’s single unifying roof. “At some firms you can’t get all that at once; you have to have four or five different providers. At WEG you’re able to access all the specialists within one roof, making it easier to access information,” she said.
Kallsen calls WEG’s approach to building strong financial plans through the use of leading-edge digital technology and experienced hands-on advisors “high-tech, high-touch.” The company assembles an outstanding team of certified financial planners and advisors, attorneys, and CPAs to provide clients with that necessary human care and understanding, while modern digital technology greatly increases advisor productivity and responsiveness, boosts security, and makes accessing information simpler than ever for both clients and advisors.
Trendmaking, the WEG way
As WEG sets new standards for customer experience, M&A Integrations, and operations, emerging movements in the industry are also motivating their high-touch, high-tech journey. “There are a lot of people who've started companies 20 or 30 years ago and now want to retire who don’t necessarily have someone in their office today that can take over,” Kallsen said. Without a successor, such firms often seek help with that transition, including selling their companies to WEG when the golden hour arrives. “Then, WEG will continue to serve that company and their clients and facilitate the local culture.”
As regulatory and technology requirements for investment management firms continue to increase, compliance can be overwhelming for smaller operations. When these necessities become too costly or overwhelming, leaders on threshold of retirement look for ways to simplify and mitigate risk for their companies. “Every person’s last, best experience that they’ve had is their expectation as they move forward,” Kallsen said. “In financial services we are moving to simplicity despite of complexity of making important financial decision. WEG is investing in digital technology, and we are able to provide new experiences to leaders who are looking for innovative ways to support clients. WEG aims to raise expectations, not just for clients but for the industry itself — which is barreling toward a consolidation model.”
The attraction to consolidate is easy to understand, given that most industries have gone through or will soon be going through their own M&A transformations. Complexity, cost, technology, and regulations are the biggest drivers within the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) industry. “It’s a massive industry trend,” she said. “If you go to any city, you’ll still see smaller RIAs that are excellent and running extremely well, but over time they may be consolidated because that’s the way the industry is trending.”
As CEO Jeff Dekko put it in 2020, “The recent wave of M&A-driven RIA consolidation will soon be eclipsed by the coming wave of consolidation among major RIA aggregators. We are determined to position WEG as the gold standard for how RIA firms should be run, while setting the stage for us to become the top acquirer of both RIA firms and larger RIA aggregators.”
Partnership and people
“It takes a village to raise people’s financial acumen and their financial empowerment,” Kallsen quipped, referring to WEG’s embrace of several high-powered tech partners. “
The former EVP of financial services for Schwab’s bustling San Francisco office added that Schwab and Fidelity are key custodians, processing transactions and cash flow safely and securely for clients. “They are such strong and solid, great performing firms,” she said.
WEG has a strategic partnership with another custodian, LPL Financial, a broker-dealer out of San Diego specializing in processing broker dealer transactions. The transactions LPL oversees for WEG are relatively simple, as life insurance and annuities are different from investments. “They’re all good solutions, and facilitating a simple and secure process is critical for our work.”
WEG’s vision statement is simple: They work together to improve clients’ lives by providing them with the very best financial advice. “We are in the guidance, education, and solutions business for our clients,” Kallsen said.
“We have the technology and teams on hand to support our clients whether they have $200,000 or $200 million. We know it's their life savings and we're committed to helping clients and supporting them in the best ways possible.”
In 1997, four advisors sharing an office space discovered they also shared an essential belief: The financial services industry needed a new and better way to provide advice to clients — one that would help relieve stress from their clients’ financial lives.
They built a firm that would deliver truly comprehensive financial guidance, all under one roof, so that clients wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of managing multiple financial relationships, making complex decisions, or coordinating disparate accounts.
That idea has evolved into what we call the Roundtable™, our team of specialists and advisors in six core areas of wealth management.
We believe that this team, paired with our 3-step UniFi™ process, helps ensure your financial life is organized, comprehensive and straightforward, enabling you to make more confident decisions and be less stressed when it comes to managing your wealth.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member SIPC (www.SIPC.org). Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, a registered investment advisor.
Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial.
Wealth Enhancement Group
505 North Highway 169