After experiencing a 30 percent increase in assets under advisement in 2014, the Carson Wealth Management Group revamped its management team on Monday ahead of several new initiatives, including a Canadian expansion already in the works for the Peak Advisor Alliance division.
Eight-year firm veteran Laura Pierson is taking over as managing director of Peak Advisor Alliance, the first woman to lead the organization since its inception in 1993. Meanwhile, former Peak Advisor Alliance managing director Paul West is moving into an enterprise-wide role as the managing director of business development.
The changes allow the Peak Advisor Alliance to focus on a number of strategic projects, including a significant expansion into the Canadian financial services market. “We’re fairly far along in discussions to have a significant footprint in Canada,” says Ron Carson, the firm’s founder and CEO. Over the years, the firm has had opportunities to move up to Canada, but Carson says he didn’t want to do so through an acquisition or through just hiring individual advisors.
“We looked at a couple of smaller acquisitions, but it didn’t make sense because it didn’t give us any sort of scale. So I made a decision unless we could have a relationship with one of the major players that made us relevant overnight, then weren’t going to enter that market,” he says. “But that’s where we’re at in discussions right now. It would be an enterprise deal that would make us a major player immediately in the Canadian market.”
In her new role as managing director, Pierson will oversee business development and strategic initiatives for Peak Advisor Alliance, including day-to-day business operations, new business, and staffing. She and West will work collaboratively on the business development responsibilities for Peak Advisor Alliance.
“While we’re recognizing Laura as a leader, she has really led the organization—with the exception of sales—for an awful long time,” Carson says. “She has a tremendous rapport with all of our coaches and our internal stakeholders and really has been the glue that allowed the team to be cohesive and able to move forward in a positive way.”
“I do think women make better business people in general, and especially in financial services, so I’m glad to have more of our females ascend to strong leadership positions,” Carson says.
In addition to continuing to develop new business and relationships on behalf of Peak Advisor Alliance, West’s new role will also have him working on behalf of Carson Wealth and Carson Institutional Alliance. “[West’s] ability to build relationships with advisors here and across the industry makes him an invaluable resource to the entire Carson enterprise and myself,” Carson says, adding that West’s move was spurred by the exceptional 60 to 70 percent growth the institutional side of the business experienced in 2014.
Along with the shifts in the firm’s executive leadership team, Carson Wealth Management Group added 14 new roles created in 2014 to support the overall growth of the firm. “In 2014, we added a couple of positions to enabled me now to do this, to focus more on the strategy side of the business,” Pierson says. Instead of brining in a new general manager, Carson says the firm beefed up middle management positions to help support Pierson’s role, including a client service manager.
The firm also plans to continue its push into digital marketing and acting as an information resource to advisors in 2015. Within the last 18 months, the firm has increased its digital media and digital marketing foothold and overhauled its content platform.
“When I sit in the coaches’ meetings, they’re struggling with the transfer of wealth and how to have a value proposition that they can show their worth and the fee that they’re charging, otherwise they’re not just losing the next generation, they’re losing it period, so digital marketing is critical,” Carson says.
“We’re trying to arm our advisors with the latest and greatest in terms of digital marketing and digital media out there. And that’s a theme we’ll continue to significantly cultivate in 2015,” Pierson says.
Updated Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. to reflect clarification from Carson Wealth Management that the planned expansion into Canada is specifically for Peak Advisor Alliance.