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Mindy Diamond on Independence: The Catalysts Behind the Growth of Mega-Firm Cerity Partners

Kurt Miscinski discusses with Louis Diamond how he and Howard Milstein built Cerity Partners from a startup to a $31 billion behemoth RIA.



What do you get when you cross a successful wealth management executive with a New York billionaire?

You get a spectacular $31 billion firm.

For Kurt Miscinski, his meeting with New York–based billionaire and entrepreneur Howard Milstein could possibly be called serendipitous.

Because at that time, Kurt was considering leaving his management role at Deutsche Bank and Howard was looking to make long-term strategic investments in the wealth management space.

As a high-profile executive at Deutsche Bank, Kurt certainly had options. But instead he saw the early potential of building a full-service wealth management RIA firm that can serve ultra-high-net-worth families, executives and companies.

So in 2009 HPM Partners was born—a firm with zero assets but with Kurt’s crystal-clear vision and the backing of investor Howard Milstein.

After starting from scratch and growing to $9 billion in less than a decade, renowned private equity firm Lightyear Capital invested in HPM and then later rebranded the firm “Cerity Partners.”

Today, Cerity manages over $31 billion in assets, a result of their strategic organic growth initiatives complemented by an inorganic growth strategy that led to a string of high-profile M&A transactions.

Kurt shares the story with Louis Diamond, starting with the early stages of HPM on through to Cerity Partners today, including:

  • The key drivers that led him to consider leaving Deutsche Bank—and why he saw such opportunity in the RIA space.
  • The gaps that HPM Partners filled in 2009—and how that evolved to form what Cerity Partners is today.
  • The advantages Cerity has over firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Ayco in serving corporate executives and offering corporate financial wellness services—and how “operating like a global professional services firm” with full access to all solutions available on the “Street” allows them to serve clients without conflicts of interest.
  • The importance of culture at Cerity—and how being referred to as “partners and colleagues” instead of “employees” empowers them to think and act like business owners.
  • The real value of external capital partners—and why Kurt feels the perspective and credibility these firms add to the business is an important byproduct of their relationship.

Kurt shares a unique vision on growth and how it’s impacted by culture—one that is based on “running to something rather than away from something.” It’s an incredible story with key learnings for advisors and business owners alike.

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