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The Diamond Podcast for Financial Advisors: How Apollon's Michael Dolberg Designed His $7.5B Firm

Mike Dolberg describes how he and the team at Apollon recognized the value of culture, partnership, and the freedom to serve clients—and how that realization ultimately drove their growth from $120 million in assets to $7.5 billion.

Culture is an overused buzzword in our industry.

It seems that the largest of firms suffer most from cultures that their advisors often describe as “broken”—a product of continual growth that forced philosophical tenants to be redesigned in a more bureaucratic fashion. That is, what works best for the masses.

Yet as more advisors launch independent firms, they’re doing so with a different ethos: One that’s more focused on developing a culture that is appealing to other like-minded advisors. As a result, many of these firms are dominating the field in attracting and retaining top talent.

For Mike Dolberg, finding the right team members who shared the same ideals was a critical part of designing a firm poised for longevity and growth.

In his eyes, having fun and loving what you do as an advisor are the real keys to success.

Mike’s own wealth management career started in insurance in 2004, eventually landing at Northwestern Mutual. He and partner Rob Gorman learned the planning business from the ground up, cold calling their way to success.

Within a year at Northwestern Mutual, Mike became a Managing Director of their local region, growing the business and developing strong client relationships.

But Northwestern is first and foremost an insurance company, so naturally, over time, the team felt limited in what they could deliver to their clients. They wanted the autonomy to build and grow the business their way, based on their own culture and philosophies, not the firm’s.

Mike was essentially an enterprise builder in a captive environment. And it wasn’t as much fun anymore.

So, in 2018 they launched the RIA firm Apollon Wealth Management, which managed approximately $120 million at its inception. Just six years later, it’s a $7.5 billion firm, with multiple locations across the country and separate business units.

In this episode, Mike shares his amazing story with Louis Diamond, including:

  • The factors behind their choice to leave Northwestern—and what specifically limited their growth while at the insurance broker dealer.
  • The key things that contributed to Apollon’s growth—and how culture and client service are intrinsically connected to their success.
  • The services they can now provide to their clients—and how that’s changed as a fully independent firm.
  • The value of partnership—and how Merchant Investment Management helped forge the relationship between Mike and Rob.
  • And why Mike says, “Good shouldn’t be good enough”—plus much more.

It’s a conversation that offers value for those who are looking at the various ways an advisor, practice, or firm can grow and thrive—and how the right culture can help drive success.

Download a transcript of this episode…

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