A five-person team has left Wells Fargo Advisors to launch their own independent practice with Summit Financial, a Parsippany, N.J.–based registered investment advisor. Summit has taken a minority, noncontrolling stake in Great Lakes Private Wealth, the Farmington Hills, Mich.–based practice that oversaw more than $400 million in assets under management while at Wells Fargo.
Great Lakes Private Wealth is led by founder and Chief Investment Officer Daniel Murphy, who previously spent almost 12 years at Wells Fargo and more than 30 years with UBS. He is joined at the new firm by Patrick Patin, partner and portfolio manager; Carla Stamps, wealth relationship manager; Anne Nordloh, wealth relationship manager; and Melissa Hauer, director of client experience.
The firm will operate under Summit Financial’s Form ADV, which currently claims a little more than $6 billion in client assets. Murphy hopes to bring all of the team’s $400 million in client assets over from Wells Fargo.
“So far, knock on wood, everyone we’ve spoken to has said they will come with us,” he said. “Some have even asked why we waited so long.”
Murphy is dropping his brokerage license in the move. “My business is primarily money management so there’s really no reason to do brokerage or commission business,” he said. “We’ve always acted like a fiduciary and now, being an RIA, we will be.”
Summit’s tech-savvy platform is what drew Murphy to the firm when markets stabilized a bit and he felt the timing was right, he said. In particular, he looks forward to leveraging the firm’s text messaging service to respond rapidly (and compliantly) to client communications.
“My background is in engineering, and I really like to test drive everything,” he said. “The Summit platform—with Fidelity as our custodian—works seamlessly."
“It's a multi-custodial chassis that utilizes some of the most innovative and best technology out there,” said Summit CEO Stan Gregor, noting that the firm is working to add Goldman Sachs and First Clearing alongside Fidelity, TD, Schwab and Pershing as custodians. “And we have created SummitVantage, which has all of that technology integrated and synchronized and working together.”
Summit currently has 24 partner firms, about half consisting of breakaway wirehouse advisors and the other half made up of independent firms looking for resources and scale. The firm is willing to invest in partners who retain their own Form ADV, but most have joined Summit’s. The latter aren’t required to adopt Summit branding, Gregor said, but they have that option.
Across all entities, Summit oversees some $10 billion in client assets.
Gregor said the fact that Summit spends four times more on growth initiatives than operations is one of the reasons the firm has virtually no advisor attrition; many have been with the firm from the beginning—40 years ago.
“Eighty percent of our payroll is focused on the growth pieces for advisors,” he said. “Whether it’s on-the-ground attorneys that work for us, trust and estate planning, portfolio managers, case design experts or financial planners.”
Murphy’s team will be working alongside another Summit advisor who has been with the firm for two years and, said Gregor, “seen really explosive growth in what I consider a challenging 24 months in the markets.”
Monish Verma, managing partner at Vardhan Wealth Management, also in Farmington Hills, is a friend of Murphy’s and the two firms will serve clients from the same office space.
“It's two completely different brands, but the point is the collaboration,” said Gregor. “The two of them are basically coming together and working together on growing their businesses.”