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Mindy Diamond on Independence: The Founding Partners of IEQ Capital on Growth, Culture and the Luminous Leap

Alan Zafran and Eric Harrison, two of the three co-CEOs and founding partners of IEQ Capital, discuss making two leaps to independence from Merrill to Luminous then First Republic to IEQ and share their journey and formula for growth they mastered along the way.

It was May of 2008 when one of the biggest breakaway stories to hit the Street emerged: A team of top Merrill advisors with some $2 billion in assets left the wirehouse to launch RIA Luminous Capital.

It was a leap that would galvanize the independent space, attracting the attention of wirehouse advisors throughout the industry, piquing their curiosity and demonstrating that there was life outside the big brokerage firms.

Then history was made again in 2012 when the $5.5 billion Luminous sold to what was then First Republic Bank for an astounding $125 million.

Yet the story didn’t end there. In 2019 there would be another entry in the wealth management industry record books. After growing the business to some $17 billion, the team would leave the bank, forming two separate independent firms, one of which was IEQ Capital, launched by Robert Skinner and Alan Zafran. Eric Harrison, a former private equity firm leader and First Republic veteran who began working with the Luminous partners in 2013, would join them, and together, the three would serve as founding partners and co-CEOs of IEQ.

It’s an astounding growth story for IEQ, which started with some $8 billion in assets at inception and is managing in the vicinity of $18 billion as of this recording.

In this episode, Louis Diamond welcomes Alan and Eric, two of the three co-CEOs of IEQ, to share their incredible journey, including:

  • Making the leap to independence in 2008—and what that was like at a time when resources were nonexistent, and few would ever consider it;
  • Their unique perspective on the Luminous sale to First Republic—and why they opted to later leave the firm and build their own;
  • Building an independent business right from the start—and how their two-time breakaway experience framed what IEQ is today;
  • IEQ’s three-CEO leadership structure—and how that works in practice; 
  • Their astounding growth—and what key elements are at the foundation of their success;
  • And much more.

It’s stories like this from trailblazers who forged new paths and continue to make their mark on the industry that are most illustrative. But it’s their core concepts around growth, culture and “building a business for advisors by advisors” that serve as a resounding takeaway—making it an episode to listen to for employee advisors and business owners alike.

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