Iowa-based Private Wealth Asset Management grew its Omaha, Neb., office to nine on Friday with the addition of a three-person team that previously managed $1.9 billion at Wells Fargo’s private bank.
The team, which includes advisors Zac Ritchey, Ben Goethel and Tyler Schlumpf, represents the largest private banking team to join PWAM since its launch in 2021.
The trio said they were leaving Wells Fargo Private Bank for reasons very similar to why they joined the wirehouse in the first place. Carson Wealth, the RIA where they met as colleagues, was growing rapidly in the mid-2010s—moving into new verticals and adding services—and, they all felt they were wearing too many hats. Goethel left in 2018, followed by Ritchey and Schlumpf the next year.
“[Carson] was an amazing experience,” said Ritchey. “But, just like any company that’s growing, there’s a lot more they ask of you. We moved to private banking because we wanted to have less clients; we wanted to move up-market and we wanted to have specialized resources for those clients and family offices.”
“But private banking has changed,” he said.
The team left Wells Fargo because resources and talent were being concentrated in larger urban markets, and their respective workloads kept growing as they absorbed regional clients. At the same time, accessing solutions became increasingly difficult.
“There used to be three of Ben 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 our resources are now in hub markets, 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 being able to administer them effectively, is very difficult when you have the limited amount of resources I have now.”
With their departure, there is only one Wells Fargo wealth advisor in the Omaha region.
“Like our other markets, Omaha has been abandoned by the large institutions,” said Kim Cappellano, one of a dozen PWAM founders. She said she similarly became disillusioned with the limitations and obligations associated with working in a private bank setting, while still appreciating the breadth of expertise offered.
Together, they launched PWAM with the goal of providing fiduciary, banking-style services with more agility and opportunity than is available in the sector. The firm has grown rapidly through the exclusive recruitment of other unsatisfied private bank wealth managers, often by reaching out directly on social media.
CEO Bryan Johnson has indicated that PWAM has no desire to become a national platform firm but would prefer to allow talented advisors to manage their own clients with supportive resources and no centralized service model. To that end, the firm’s in-house recruitment initiative is selective.
Ritchey, who joined Carson right out of college in 2015, worked as a student intern for the FDIC in Kentucky while earning his BA in financial planning and management at Western Kentucky University.
Schlumpf, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from San Diego State University, was a portfolio analyst for Vanguard before becoming a portfolio manager at Northern Trust Corporation. He became an investment strategist at Carson in late 2015.
Goethel, who began as an associate attorney for Leininger Smith Johnson Baack Placzek & Allen in Nebraska after graduating from the state’s law college, held brief positions at two trust banks before joining Carson in 2014.
In their new roles at PWAM, Ritchey will serve as managing director, Goethel as partner and senior wealth strategist, and Schlumpf as partner and senior portfolio manager.
Together, the trio oversaw more assets than any team PWAM has added in its history, but they don’t want to bring all those client accounts over. Ritchey said the team will ideally have fewer than 100 clients at PWAM, less than half the number they had at Wells Fargo.
“Effectively, less is more,” agreed Schlumpf. “With fewer accounts, we can handle clients’ very specific financial circumstances in a way that we thought we could get out of private banking. But I think we all agree that Private Wealth has created a structure that will really allow us to do that.”
Still young, the team looks forward to the role they will play in PWAM’s eventual succession.
“We’ll be the youngest across our firm,” said Ritchey. “So, we’re really excited to not only be the succession for Private Wealth going forward, but then being able to have that ownership and control as we move forward through the next stages in our practice.”
Established in September 2021, PWAM currently claims more than $1.7 billion in assets, an average client tenure more than double the industry average and a diverse staff, with women in a majority of leadership roles. The firm has grown staff from seven to 47 and opened offices in four states and eight markets around the nation—Omaha, Neb.; Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa; and San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Midland and Fort Worth, Texas.
The wirehouses lost around 500 net advisors in 2022, according to a recent Diamond report, with Wells Fargo accounting for 451 of those losses and Morgan Stanley making up 189 in gains. Merrill Lynch and UBS lost a net 155 and 87 advisors, respectively.