Working with top advisors like David Edwards, founder and president of Heron Wealth is a real joy. Marie Swift of Impact Communications spoke with David to uncover some of his secrets to success. David provides some great insights for fellow financial advisors. There are lots of great ideas and much to emulate here.
A transcript of the interview is posted below.
MARIE SWIFT: Hello and welcome back to Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry. This is your host today, Marie Swift, and I'm joined today by David Edwards, who is the founder of Heron Wealth a New York-based fiduciary investment advisor and wealth management firm. Today we are going to be talking about how Dave has intentionally built a wealth management business that is growing in leaps and bounds. I would say, Dave, that you are a shining light for all the advisors that will be listening to this audio. Welcome to the show.
DAVID EDWARDS: Good afternoon Marie.
SWIFT: Thank you so much for your time today. I was reading the white paper that recently came out, of which you were the main focal point. It was put out by eMoney, and it focused on your client service model and how you've grown as an independent wealth management firm since your inception. It focused particularly on the last three or four years. So let's talk a little bit about your hyper-productive team – I love that phrase – and how you are building such a successful and enduring company. So, what would you like to share about your strategy?
EDWARDS: So, let me divide the last twenty years into two phases. For fifteen years, I ran a solo practice, taking care of maybe 50-60 families with about $75 million in total assets. That suited my life while raising two children. Well, those children went to college in 2011 and I was facing the next 15 to 20 years of my career and thinking about what I wanted to accomplish with all that spare time. I decided to build my firm to a billion dollars in assets. If you think about moving from $75 million to a billion dollars, you can't do that as a solo practitioner.
I spent some time trying to understand the form of a well-run wealth advisory firm: the structure is a pyramid. Not a pyramid scheme, that would be bad, but it is a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is your core foundation. It's technology, operations, cybersecurity and compliance. That has to be rock solid. On top of that, you build your service package. For us it's financial planning, investment advice and estate planning. That has to be rock solid, as well. On top of that you can build a marketing and business development process. And on top of that is management. If each of the lower layers is rock solid, management is not that big of a deal.
So, by understanding exactly the structure of my firm, I was able to hire very talented people to fill in the roles of compliance, training, portfolio management and financial planning. I was also able to hire outside vendors for compliance, cybersecurity, marketing, PR and technology. The transformation was that I no longer spent 80% of my time running the firm. I spent 80% of my time talking to clients and prospects, which is the fun part of my job. It's what I want to do every day.