Marketplace: Wealth management firm banks on Park City
As Bruce Greenwald, Michael Mawby, Todd Resnick and Stuart Gertman started seeing the wealth management industry changing, the longtime business partners began thinking about taking a big leap.
According to Greenwald, it began when profit margins for the wealth management services of large firms such as Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo started to shrink. In turn, advisers were reaping smaller commissions. And for four advisers who had grown their assets from $300 million to $600 million in eight years with Morgan Stanley, Greenwald said, it was a troubling trend.
“There’s not a lot of incentive for the advisers to continue bringing in more assets,” he said.
In response, the partners decided to take a drastic move. They left their positions with Morgan Stanley and teamed up with another group to form an independent wealth management firm. In July, they officially opened One Seven. The firm is headquarted in Cleveland, but they also opened an office in Park City, led by Greenwald.
Greenwald is hopeful the firm will thrive in Park City. He said One Seven’s ambition is to create a “holistic environment” for clients, helping them with a number of financial problems in addition to ensuring steady returns for their investments.
“Wealth management for most of our clients is not about performance,” he said. “It’s really about the value we bring to the relationship for our clients. It’s all the other things we provide — tax planning and services to their families and legacy planning for their families and being there when they need us.”
All of those extras, Greenwald said, are what sets One Seven apart from many larger firms. He offered a recent example to illustrate his point: A few weeks ago, a client asked Greenwald to accompany him to look at a house his son was considering buying. That’s not the typical role of a wealth adviser, but Greenwald was happy to oblige.
“That doesn’t create any (monetary) value for the client, but it’s helping the client out because I have a lot of experience in doing that,” he said. “It’s the other stuff that you never hear about on CNBC or all the cable channels of what we do for our client at the end of the day.”
Greenwald anticipates that more and more customers will begin flocking to independent firms. The major players like Morgan Stanley, he said, will continue to service large clients, such as hedge funds or companies with 401k or stock plans for their employees. But more individual clients may begin to seek out companies like One Seven because of the added level of service they offer.
“The retail client is going to get lost down the road in these big brokerage firms,” he said, adding that One Seven’s services are fee based.
One Seven sees Park City as an alluring opportunity to attract a significant number of retail clients. Greenwald moved to town from Cleveland a few years ago and was intrigued by the business scene. He saw it an unfilled niche for the firm to target.
“There’s a lot of money in Park City,” he said, adding that the firm already manages about $50 million in assets from residents in Park City and Salt Lake City. “My feeling is that there aren’t a lot of wealth advisers here and that there’s a great opportunity that I saw even before I moved out here. One of the reasons my partners let me come out was this market is huge. I mean, there’s a lot of wealthy people that live here.”
Resnick, the firm’s president, added that having a location in Park City was a natural fit. The firm is committed to building its office here and will likely bring on additional advisers to the staff in the future.
“We know in Cleveland there’s nobody else who is creating a client experience like we are,” he said. “So I’m guessing there’s also nobody in Park City quite doing that. We want this to encompass the really important aspects of people’s lives, beyond money. We like to say we’re going beyond the balance sheet.”
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