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Doug Rothermich

$1.5B RIA Fidelis Capital Hires Former TIAA Wealth Planning Head

Douglas Rothermich, who previously built out TIAA’s HNW planning group and advised on $1 billion in assets, joins Fidelis as a partner and wealth strategist.

Fidelis Capital, a Tampa-based registered investment advisory firm launched about two years ago with $1.5 billion in assets under advisement, has hired Douglas Rothermich as a partner and wealth strategist. Rothermich took some time off from the wealth management industry to ride out a non-solicitation agreement, but prior to that, he spent more than 20 years at TIAA as vice president of wealth planning strategies, advising clients with over $1 billion in assets.

Rothermich, who built out TIAA’s high-net-worth planning group, will be tasked with expanding Fidelis’ planning capabilities.  

In considering his next move, Rothermich said he looked at firms of all sizes and even considered starting his own. He was attracted to Fidelis’ model of bringing together seasoned professionals in their respective areas.

“A lot of organizations, when they start out, are so focused on talking with clients or building up assets,” he said. “What I thought Fidelis did exceptionally well was they built a platform first that could serve ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth families.”

Matthew Ellis, founding partner and president of Fidelis, said Rothermich will focus on tax planning, trust and estate planning, asset location and titling, among other things. Rothermich will also further Fidelis’s strategy of constant communication between the investment and wealth planning sides.  

“Candidly, that’s where most of the major institutions have fallen short: they have a siloed investment group; they have a siloed planning group. And it’s not an iterative process,” Ellis said.

Fidelis was created in August 2022 when two teams of advisors from Wells Fargo Private Bank and Bank of America Private Bank came together. The teams wanted to bring private banking services to the independent space at a time when the big institutions were cutting back on those services.

Ellis said he fell in love with the old private banking model, where there was a duty of loyalty and a team of professionals across several different disciplines working together to serve a small number of clients. But things changed with the global financial crisis, and the big firms became more focused on scaling their capabilities and managing risks, controls and legal exposure, at the expense of customization for the HNW.

“I found myself fighting more against the institution for the client than leveraging the resources for the client,” he said.

Since launching, the firm has added a number of professionals; last September, they added a five-person team advising on more than $4.5 billion in client assets from Bank of America Private Bank. That team opened a Fidelis office in Washington, D.C. Also in September, the RIA hired Christopher Gunster from Bank of America Corp. as head of fixed income. Gunster has built out a proprietary direct indexing capability for fixed income. 

Ellis expects the firm to reach $2 billion in AUM by the end of this year. 

Prior to joining TIAA, Rothermich was a lawyer at Bryan Cave, where he worked with ultra-high-net-worth clients on estate planning issues and closely held business interests.

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