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Mindy Diamond on Independence: UBS Breakaway Team Shares Their Path to 2x Growth in Year 1

UBS breakaways John Klaas, Jr. and David Millington share their journey to launching independent firm Puzzle Wealth Solutions with Gladstone Wealth Partners.


Life is a series of experiences.

A continually changing image painted by the people we meet, the places we work, our daily activities—all of the pieces coming together to provide us with a foundation from which we develop and grow.

And it’s the same for an advisory business.

It’s a concept that’s interesting to explore when you hear the stories of different advisory teams and how they came together—and how their perspectives became complementary forces motivated by similar goals.

Take the guests on this episode, for example. John Klaas Jr. was at Morgan Stanley when David Millington was looking for a new job. David’s dad suggested he speak to John – who was his financial advisor – to see if there were opportunities at Morgan. David was hired and became a part of John’s growing team.

Fast forward 4 years later to 2007, the team transitioned to a UBS Private Wealth Management office in Chicago. Then over the next 14 years at UBS, they grew the business and expanded their offerings to high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients, adding capabilities like estate planning and alternative investments.

But they wanted to evolve further—and had a vision they couldn’t execute at the wirehouse. Including being true fiduciaries to their clients.

So they explored their options, decided that they didn’t want to build their own firm, and became intrigued by what Gladstone Wealth Partners offered.

With some $1.2B in assets under management, they opted to make the leap and build their independent practice, Puzzle Wealth Solutions, in partnership with Gladstone in June of 2021.

As of this recording, just shy of their one-year anniversary, they are managing $2B in assets for their clients—nearly 2x growth!

So in the episode, John and David join Mindy Diamond to discuss their journey, including:

  • Their leap from Morgan Stanley to UBS—and what precipitated the decision to leave UBS for independence.
  • The choice to go independent with Gladstone independence—and what other options they considered.
  • Their extraordinary growth—and how they achieved it in such a short period of time.
  • A unique perspective on retire-in-place programs—and why it was not the path John chose for himself or his team.
  • And much more.

It’s a story that exemplifies how different experiences came together, much like the pieces of a puzzle, to create a clear image of the teams’ vision for the future—and extraordinary success.

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