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Ten to Watch
ten-to-watch-2021-promo (1).jpg Illustration by Jordi Ferrándiz

Editor's Letter: The Ten to Watch—Yes, Another List, but Different

Each of the people on this year's Ten to Watch list, in unique ways, has the potential to change the way advisors work.

In this issue is our annual Ten to Watch, highlighting individuals the editorial team thinks will have an outsized impact on the wealth management industry in the next few years.

Lists are always a perilous business, and we make no claims about this one other than its pure subjectivity based on our coverage, internal conversations, reflections and discussions with others. 

In that spirit, it’s better to point to what this list is not: It’s not based on age—ages here range from early 20s to late 50s. It’s not based on Twitter followers or activity—though some here have substantial social media presences, others have none. It’s not based on any kind of hurdle, test or even historical accomplishment. It’s a purely subjective list, and, yes, sometimes we get it wrong. 


Glance at a few folks here and see if we make the case: All know Gary Gensler as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but advisors might be more impacted by his chosen head of enforcement: Gurbir S. Grewal. As New Jersey’s attorney general, Grewal led an effort in that state to create a uniformed fiduciary standard for brokers and advisors that was stricter than anything being proposed at the federal level. That likely points to a much broader—and tougher—interpretation of the rules he is now set to enforce: namely, Reg BI. He’ll cross paths with advisors on other fronts, including Form CRS, ESG claims and new rules around advisor marketing. He won’t be a laissez-faire regulator.

Crypto enthusiasts are here, of course. We highlight Ben Cruikshank, formerly of Betterment, who convinced investors to let him build a crypto trading platform alongside the cash management tool—Flourish—that he and his team sold to MassMutual in late 2020, symbolically, at least, taking crypto mainstream. Also here, Caitlin Cook, who, as the community head of startup OnRamp, will be the young female face helping teach rooms full of old, stale and male advisors about the technology.

Potentially loftier technology ambitions are here, with both Matt Reiner of Benjamin and Niharika Shah of Clout attempting to “enhance advisor efficiency and productivity” via tools built on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Consider the firms innovation incubators inside the industry, potentially brewing up game-changing tech that may finally help crack the code for what an advisor’s “tech stack” is capable of. 

Gabe Rissman is another potential game-changer. We all know the Catch-22 when it comes to advisors and ESG investments: Clients don’t know that they want the option until advisors tell them about it, but advisors won’t tell them about it because they lack the tools to really have those conversations in meaningful ways. Rissman’s YourStake is trying to give advisors a clearer way to do just that. 

Each of these people, in unique ways, has the potential to change the way advisors work. For that reason, we feel they should be on your radar. If you don’t agree, let us know who you think we should be keeping an eye on.

Thanks for reading, 

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David Armstrong


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