Iowa-based Private Wealth Asset Management grew its Omaha, Neb., office to nine on Friday, adding a three-person team that previously managed $1.9 billion at Wells Fargo’s private bank.
A team that includes advisors Zac Ritchey, Ben Goethel and Tyler Schlumpf represent the largest private banking team to join PWAM since its inception in 2021.
The trio said they are leaving Wells Fargo Private Bank for reasons very similar to why they joined management in the first place. Carson Wealth, the RIA where they met as colleagues, was growing rapidly in the mid-2010s—moving into new industries and adding services—and they all felt they were wearing too many hats. Goethel left in 2018, followed by Ritchey and Schlumpf the following year.
“(Carson) was an incredible experience,” said Ritchey. “But, just like any growing business, you’re asked a lot more. We switched to private banking because we wanted fewer customers; we wanted to move up the market and we wanted to offer our clients and family offices specialized resources.”
“But private banking has changed,” he said.
The team left Wells Fargo as resources and talent were focused on large urban markets, and their workload grew as they took on regional clients. At the same time, getting solutions became more difficult.
“There used to be three Bens and now there’s only one,” Ritchey said of Goethel, a former attorney who manages trusts and estates. “When I started, there were four other wealth advisors. And all of our resources are now centralized, so we call it “1-800-Private Banking.”
“I now have over a hundred trust accounts,” Goethel said. “Knowing all the ins and outs of all these different trusts and managing them effectively is very difficult with the limited amount of resources I have now.”
Since their departure, there is only one Wells Fargo wealth advisor in the Omaha area.
“Like our other markets, Omaha has been abandoned by major institutions,” said Kim Cappellano. one of the dozen founders of PWAM. He said he was also disappointed by the constraints and responsibilities of working in a private banking environment, but still appreciated the breadth of expertise offered.
Together, they launched PWAM with the goal of providing trustees, banking services that are more agile and more opportunities than are available in the industry. The company has grown rapidly by exclusively recruiting other disgruntled private bank wealth managers, often by contacting them directly on social media.
CEO Bryan Johnson has stated that PWAM does not want to become a national platform company, but would like to empower talented advisors to manage their own clients with supportive resources and without a centralized service model. For this, the company’s internal recruitment initiative is selective.
Ritchey, who joined Carson straight out of college in 2015, worked as a student intern at the FDIC in Kentucky and earned a BA in financial planning and management from Western Kentucky University.
Schlumpf, who holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from San Diego State University, was a portfolio analyst at Vanguard before becoming a portfolio manager at Northern Trust Corporation. He became Carson’s investment strategist in late 2015.
Goethel, who started as an associate attorney at Leininger Smith Johnson Baack Placzek & Allen in Nebraska after graduating from the state’s law school, had brief stints at two trust banks before joining Carson in 2014.
In his new positions at PWAM, Ritchey will serve as CEO, Goethel as partner and wealth strategist, and Schlumpf as partner and senior portfolio manager.
Together, the trio oversees more assets than any PWAM team has added in its history, but they don’t want to bring all the client accounts. Ritchey said the team ideally has fewer than 100 clients at PWAM, less than half the number of clients at Wells Fargo.
“Effectively, less is more,” agreed Schlumpf. “With smaller accounts, we are able to handle the very specific financial circumstances of customers in a way that we thought we could get away from private banking. But I think we can all agree that Private Wealth has created a structure that really makes that possible.”
The still young team is looking forward to its role in the eventual succession of PWAM.
“We’re the youngest in our company,” said Ritchey. “So we’re really excited not only to be the successor to Private Wealth going forward, but also to own and manage it as we move forward in the next phases of our practice.”
Founded in September 2021, PWAM currently has over $1.7 billion in assets, an average client size of more than double the industry average, and a diverse workforce, with the majority of senior leadership positions held by women. The company has grown from seven to 47 employees and opened offices in four states and eight markets across the nation — Omaha, Neb.; Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa; and San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Midland, and Fort Worth, Texas.
The management centers lost around 500 online advisors in 2022 recent Diamond report, Wells Fargo accounted for 451 of those losses and Morgan Stanley accounted for 189 of those gains. Merrill Lynch and UBS lost 155 and 87 advisors respectively.