This episode of the RIA Edge podcast features a conversation between David Armstrong, managing director of editorial and content strategies for the Wealth Management Group at Informa, and Molly Bennard, the CEO of Connectus Wealth Advisers. Connectus Wealth is a Focus Financial Partners-owned firm, but, unlike others inside that network, it acts more like a collective of smaller RIAs that benefit more from a shared back-office, while still maintaining their client-facing team and unique brands. It’s a model that falls somewhere in between the large aggregators of $1+ billion firms, and smaller acquisitions, which bring advisory practices completely into the fold. Since its founding in 2020, Connectus has grown to include 17 brands in the portfolio with some $12.5 billion in client assets, with the vast majority in the United States.
Specifically, Molly and David discuss:
- Molly’s background in financial services and how she found a home at Focus Financial on the acquisition team before joining Connectus.
- What kind of firms best fit the Connectus business model, and why there are no shortage of them in the marketplace.
- Why it’s important each Connectus firm keeps its unique branding and client-facing services, like financial planning and portfolio reporting, while sharing back-office functions and, increasingly, shared services like tax planning and accounting.
- The “killer app,” the firm’s home-grown technology, called MyConnectus, which lets advisors and clients share the same platform from different “sides” of the portal (under the advisor’s brand and control) to work together in what Bennard calls a “single point of truth.”
Molly and David also talk about how organic growth is more important for Connectus than growth via acquisition, and how she is hiring talent and organizing the team for that strategy. In addition, they discuss Connectus Wealth’ hands-on, documented approach to onboarding like-minded advisors and firms, and how, given the dynamics of the market, there is no shortage of opportunities in front of them.
Connect With David Armstrong:
- LinkedIn: WealthManagment.com
- LinkedIn: David Armstrong
- Twitter/X: @djamesarmstrong
- LinkedIn: Informa
Connect With Molly Bennard:
About Our Guest:
Before joining Connectus, Molly was a Managing Director at Focus Financial Partners, responsible for leading business development and acquisition activities across both the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. She also oversaw various international initiatives, including the expansion of Focus’ presence in Australia. Molly also worked closely with multiple Focus partner firms in delivering value-added resources to help execute strategic initiatives that accelerate growth.
Prior to Focus, Molly held a leadership position as the Head of the Strategic Initiatives Group at AXA US, where she led corporate strategy and business development initiatives to drive profitable growth and performance across the organization. She also previously worked within Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division, executing M&A, equity and debt transactions within the financial services industry. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, providing financial due diligence and other advisory services to private equity and corporate clients within the U.S. and Latin America.
Molly is a CPA and CFA charterholder. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, Molly enjoys running, scuba diving, international photography and cooking.