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Mindy Diamond on Independence: Turning a 'Paper Tablecloth Vision' Into Reality

Gerry Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of GYL Financial Synergies, describes how a simple sketch on a restaurant tablecloth turned into an RIA with 3X revenue and $8.5 billion in assets in five years.


Some of the most successful businesses are born from concepts designed not in a boardroom or corner office on an expensive whiteboard, but instead in more austere environments.

That is, with just a pen and some paper.

Because it’s the ideas, goals and the vision to achieve them that matters most—not how or where they are developed.

Our guest in this episode, Gerry Goldberg, can attest to that. Because he and partner John Yolles sketched out what their business would look like as an RIA on a paper tablecloth at a casual restaurant.

But circling back nearly two decades prior, Gerry’s story starts with his transition from practicing law to wealth management in the 1990s at the predecessors to Wells Fargo Advisors. Gerry became a part of their ProfitFormula program which offered some “independence” within the wirehouse, then later “slid” into their independent arm, FiNet.

After growing the business to some $4B in assets under advisement, he and John craved more independence.

They wanted to be free of a broker-dealer construct and access a true open-architecture opportunity set for their institutional and private clients.

As he shares in this episode, their feelings were much less an indictment of Wells Fargo, and much more about wanting to be true fiduciaries to the clients—that is, to gain the ability to do more for them and offer more products and services beyond the standard solutions.

So they decided it was time to explore their options and in 2016 launched the RIA firm GYL Financial Synergies, in partnership with Focus Financial Partners.

And just five years later, they’ve grown their assets to $8.5B and tripled their revenue.

In this episode, Gerry shares his story with Mindy, including:

  • Starting in wealth management with zero in assets—and what it took to build it to $4B under the Wells Fargo Advisor umbrella.
  • The motivation behind the decision to transition to FiNet—and how that move impacted their business.
  • The desire for greater independence while at Wells Fargo—and how the “tension between the goals of a scalable enterprise like Wells and the ability to provide a bespoke experience for clients” became too strong to ignore.
  • The catalysts of growth as an RIA—and how as GYL they were able to triple revenue and double assets in just five years.

Gerry’s story is an incredible one—both relevant and relatable to prospective breakaways and independent business owners alike.

Yet what resonates most is his closing advice: Don’t let fear preclude you from exploring your options. While it’s easy to allow inertia to guide you, doing so can mean “you’ll miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Download a transcript of this episode…

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Listen to more episodes of Mindy Diamond on Independence: A Podcast for Financial Advisors Considering Change.

Mindy Diamond is CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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