Chicago-based RIA Cresset announced Tuesday that Liz Nesvold, a longtime investment banker facilitating wealth management deals, has joined the firm as its first president.
In the newly created role, which she admits is still a bit undefined, Nesvold will manage more than just the firm's acquisition strategy. In collaboration with co-founders Eric Becker and Avy Stein, she will work to more fully integrate existing entities in addition to overseeing the firm's overall strategy, platform and family office service model.
“There are no perfect rules of engagement,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to really listen and think about what I can do.”
Nesvold, 55, joins the firm following four years helming the asset and wealth management unit at Raymond James Investment Bank, which acquired the 12-year-old firm she founded and ran with her husband, Silver Lane Advisors, in 2019. Prior to Silver Lane, Nesvold spent 15 years with Berkshire Global Advisors.
She left Raymond James last February after informing the firm she was considering a change.
“It was interesting to have a big firm corporate experience, but it was the right time to think about doing something different,” she said.
Nesvold would only say she departed the discount brokerage on her own terms. It was made known she departed for good reason, which is a contractual clause that applies when a firm reduces an employee’s authority or compensation, neglects to pay money owed to them or tries to relocate them more than 50 miles. The specifics of what prompted the separation are unclear, but the clause allows employees to exit contracts voluntarily, typically with severance benefits.
“After I shared my decision to leave and had no job to go to, this incredible opportunity showed up on my doorstep,” said Nesvold. "And it happened to be with people that I've known since day one of their business.”
Having worked on half of Cresset's M&A transactions, Nesvold said she and the co-founders have an understanding.
“They did something incredible,” she said, pointing out the firm began as a multifamily office to help the founders' families manage their own assets and has quickly become one of the fastest growing RIAs in the country.
When Cresset officially launched in July 2017, Stein and Becker set a “purposeful goal” of building a firm that would last long beyond their lifetimes, the "100-year" goal.
Within 16 months, Cresset was managing more than $3 billion and had hired more than 60 employees across three business segments—Cresset Wealth Advisors, Cresset Family Office and Cresset Partners, its private investing arm, which offers clients direct access to real estate, private equity and secondary market investments.
The firm grew quickly, through six acquisitions, recruitment and organic growth. Today, Cresset manages around $30 billion in assets across more than 2,600 client accounts and 360 employees—more than a third of whom are financial advisors.
“As a fellow banker in our industry, [Nesvold is] definitely one of the longest tenured and has been phenomenally successful at what she's done in the M&A space throughout her career,” said Brian Lauzon, managing director at InCap group, an investment bank serving the financial services industries.
“This is her moving into more of an operator role in an industry that she obviously knows extremely well,” he said. “So, it’s exciting news to see a distinct next chapter in her career at Cresset. It's a great firm. I'm not surprised she landed somewhere this high quality, presumably placing a very high value on her knowledge of the industry and competitive dynamics.”
Nesvold stressed that her new role will involve far more than deal-making.
“The obvious areas for me, apart from what everybody knows I can do on the M&A side, really is to help them think about the whole strategy, the entire 100-year plan they've put out for the firm, the way we serve our clients and how we integrate and bring on human capital talent, since this is an entirely intangible business. It's just a wonderful way for me to use so many more of my skills.”
One thing Nesvold said she’ll be very focused on is increasing diversity and bringing more women into financial services.
“There's a can-do attitude at Cresset,” she said. “There's a whatever-it-takes-for-the-client attitude, but it's also about evolution and the need to attract more people. We need to empower more people. For me, it’s an opportunity for female advocacy and making sure I see more women in finance and more women with mentors—both male and female—and bringing more women up. This is a wonderful opportunity to really pursue not only their mission, but mine as well.”
“I think the last few years have really opened her eyes to what it's like to be a woman in investment banking. She’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly," said Nesvold's husband, Peter Nesvold. Peter Nesvold is a partner at Republic Capital Group, an investment bank serving the wealth management industry.
“It’s not a level playing field,” he said. “I think you'll see her become a very vocal advocate for women's rights in this space. There are very few women represented and I think she feels a moral obligation to pay it forward.”
“Liz is a fearless leader who personifies integrity and transparency on behalf of clients, colleagues, and our industry," Becker said. "She embodies Cresset's core values of client first, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, and will help drive Cresset's commitment to attract, retain, and develop talented, diverse leaders."