ANNE B. SHUMADINE
founder and Chairman
Firm: Signature Financial Management
Years in biz: 17
AUM: over $2 billion
Designations, licenses: J.D., Series 65
In the early 1990s, Anne B. Shumadine was working as a tax lawyer in the Norfolk, Va., area, offering estate and income tax planning for the wealthy, when a client of hers pointed out an unfilled need in the community: “One of my clients suggested that I should open a one-stop shop for the working rich.”
Shumadine took action, teaming up with Susan Colpitts, a CPA at the same law firm, to launch an RIA in 1994 that would provide a variety of services. “We realized that really doing a good job for somebody means that you know a lot about a lot of different things, and we had a lot of clients that we did a lot of different things for.”
While Norfolk is not a particularly affluent area, she says there was nobody offering this type of complete financial oversight package. One thing was missing in her partnership with Colpitts: “Neither of us had any investment knowledge,” she says. But it didn't take them long to find the right people on the investments side.
Their formula worked. Since founding Signature Financial Management in Norfolk, Shumadine has catapulted to number 23 on our list of Top 50 Women RIAs, growing the firm from four employees and no clients to over $2 billion AUM, 150 clients and 29 employees.
“In 1994, the whole concept of modern portfolio theory and asset allocation was a pretty new concept, or at least it was around here,” she says. “It just made sense, the fact that you would have some sort of asset allocation that would give you a framework for investing.”
Signature not only brought modern portfolios and asset allocation to Norfolk's rich, it also brought estate planning, philanthropic planning, and income tax planning.
She structured the firm into four teams: investments; client management; client services; and infrastructure. Signature is also made up of two parts; one provides standard wealth management for those with assets of $5 million to $20 million, while the other is a multi-family office for investors with more than $20 million in net worth.
And with seven lawyers on staff, Shumadine is hoping the firm's legal background will set them apart. “I personally think the legal education is the best education you can get because it makes you analytical,” she says. “It makes you skeptical.”