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Mindy Diamond on Independence

Mindy Diamond on Independence: Former $2B J.P. Morgan Team on Their New Chapter with Cresset

A conversation with Kevin McGuire and Sarah Burney, managing directors and wealth advisors at Cresset, one year into their transition.


Historically, it was rare to find private bankers who left not only their banks but the model itself. These folks often find themselves caught between two lands: One where their businesses are tied to the bank and the other in which they prize the steady stream of referrals.

No doubt, banks are a great way for an advisor to build a business, but should private bankers look to make a change, they are often met with challenges—including asset portability concerns, difficulties with replicating the business, added legal risks, and the most onerous hurdle of all: garden leave provisions.

Yet over the past year, we’ve seen many private bankers leave the banks they built their businesses at, with some planting new flags at Merrill, UBS, and Morgan Stanley—firms that recently expressed a new level of interest in welcoming private bankers. In contrast, others have built their own independent businesses.

Yet a third group has found homes in the new generation of multi-family offices—opting for an environment that caters to ultra- and high net worth clients with concierge-level services and a more entrepreneurial culture.

In this episode, we welcome two private bankers who fit in this latter category.

Kevin McGuire and Sarah Burney both hailed from J.P. Morgan Private Bank, having built a strong business overseeing some $2 billion with ultra- and high-net-worth individuals and families.

With over a dozen years each under their belt, they and their team started to feel a conflict between what they wanted to do for their clients and what they could do under the auspices of J.P. Morgan. And ultimately, they wanted greater control over how they managed client relationships.

So they explored all of their options and even the possibility of taking a more entrepreneurial path of starting their own RIA.

Ultimately, they landed on Cresset—an employee- and client-owned multi-family office born in 2017 designed to deliver a new paradigm for wealth management with rockstar leadership and advisor talent.

Cresset co-founder Avy Stein was a guest on this show in 2021. At that time, Cresset was a $12B firm and has exploded since, more than doubling to $27B in assets under management as of this recording.

This extraordinary growth makes it clear why Cresset’s value proposition is resonating with the wealth management world—particularly Sarah, Kevin, and three other members of their team at J.P. Morgan, who joined in September of 2021.

In this episode, Mindy Diamond talks with Sarah and Kevin about their journey, including:

  • Life as private bankers—and the limiting nature of the private banker salary-bonus model.
  • Changes they saw at J.P. Morgan—and what motivated them to explore their options.
  • The challenges of transitioning—and how they navigated portability, garden leave provisions, and more.
  • The attraction of the Cresset model—and why it won out over other firms and the option to build their own RIA.
  • The value of referrals—and what they are seeing in terms of the quality and stream of referrals from Cresset.
  • Plus, they discuss life one year later—and how their business lives have changed since their transition.

No doubt, Kevin, Sarah and their team built a strong business at J.P. Morgan. But like so many other advisors, there came a point where they wanted to do more for their high net worth clients. For them, Cresset was the answer. But it was their closing advice that is the best message of all: If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to take care of clients, you can find success anywhere.

It’s a great perspective on exploring change—regardless of the firm or model you are building your business at.

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