Contrary to what a recent report alleged, robo advisor Wealthfront is not having trouble retaining talent, and in fact is growing the ranks of executive-level staff, according to a spokesperson.
The representative pointed to three new hires announced Tuesday afternoon by president and CEO Adam Nash on the company’s blog.
The first is Joe Ternasky, who joins Wealthfront as a new vice president of engineering. Ternasky has worked at Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and, most recently, Google, where he ran development of Google apps for enterprise. Nash said his experience developing user experiences would help make Wealthfront the only financial advice that clients ever need.
Jakub Jurek, formerly a professor at Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania, brings an expertise in portfolio management, alternative investments, derivatives and market microstructure to his new role as Wealthfront’s vice president of research. Jurek previously worked with Wealthfront to develop its 529 college savings plan offering.
Another contributor in developing the college savings program was Roy Adams, who now joins Wealthfront as general counsel, after running his own independent legal practice.
“Delivering on a mission that large isn’t easy; it requires patience, funding and most importantly an extremely capable team,” Nash, who would not comment on the hires, said in the blog post, referring to the launch of the 529 plan. "We are incredibly fortunate to attract such accomplished executives to join our mission. Our team has accomplished a lot over the past four and a half years. Before we started few had heard of automated investment services. Now the debate is only over how large they will become. We’re committed to making financial advice available to the tens of millions of people who previously had no compelling alternative.”
Last week, Wealthfront lost a number of high-ranking employees, including vice president of growth and product Elliot Shmukler, chief compliance officer of Wealthfront Brokerage Corporation Brian Dennen, and director of product management Brad Mauney. Some industry observers interpreted the news to mean the robo advisor was struggling to survive.
Predicted 3 months ago... B2C robos dying. "Talent exodus hits Wealthfront" https://t.co/HiEoiFQ5G9 @RIABiz #FinTech pic.twitter.com/RMq8P9Uz88— MichaelKitces (@MichaelKitces) July 26, 2016
Wealthfront director of communications said this is less a sign of trouble within the company and more “business as usual” for Silicon Valley, even if it’s not so much for the financial industry. Companies like Uber and Snapchat frequently shuffle executives in and out, and job-hopping among top execs is so much a part of tech-industry culture that it’s often lampooned in an HBO comedy show.
Firm spokesperson Kate Wauck added that in addition to these three new hires, Wealthfront has continued growth in client signups and assets under management, and is close to the $4 billion mark.