B. Riley Wealth Management Q&A Series: John Wade and Aaron Fiske, Financial Advisors, Nashville
John Wade and Aaron Fiske love interacting with clients and networking, and both are passionate about finding creative ways to help clients achieve their financial goals. They’re a dynamic multi-generational team managing a growing practice in B. Riley Wealth Management’s Nashville location. Wade has been in the financial business for more than 25 years, and Fiske joined the team two years ago. Read on to learn how this energetic team is successfully using the tools B. Riley Wealth Management has to offer.
How did you end up in the wealth management business?
John Wade: I started my career managing retail bank branches and stumbled into wealth management. Not long after banks started introducing investment solutions to its customers, I became interested in the wealth management piece. I was part of a dynamic team that was extremely successful. Eventually I was tapped to become a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and the rest is history.
Aaron Fiske: Growing up in a family business taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. I liked the idea of managing my own business, while simultaneously helping people to grow their wealth throughout their lives, so I started my career in wealth management right out of college. Working in this industry allows me to help others achieve goals they have set, and that is incredibly rewarding.
What’s changed in the business, and how do you view the changes that have taken place in the wealth management industry over the past 5-10 years?
John Wade: There is much more oversight on registered financial advisors than there ever has been. That makes some people very uncomfortable but the changes have been made with the best interest of the client in mind. We are dealing with people’s lives and money. We should be accountable.
A positive change over the past several years has been an increase in diversity throughout the financial business. It’s important because clients will connect differently with different people, and diverse perspectives are vital. Financial advisors with varying backgrounds bring unique experiences, opinions and approaches to the table, which encourages their colleagues and clients to consider different angles. That’s how problems can be solved creatively.
Talk about how you’ve benefited from the advances in technology we’ve seen in the business over the past several years.
John Wade: In-house, we have great planning and foundational software. It gets the job done. But there are also other resources I have gone out and pursued on my own; for example, I use a tool that helps me drill down into my client’s risk tolerance through an intense questionnaire. The questionnaire has 25 questions, as opposed to the usual five or so, and while it covers the basics, it also delves deeper through a psychological assessment.
Another tool allows us to score the tax efficiency of a client’s portfolio. We can then identify opportunity and make recommendations that will improve their tax score. This could ultimately reduce their tax liability and have a tremendous impact on growth over time.
What areas or aspects of wealth management interest you the most?
Aaron Fiske: I love the relationship-building part of being a financial advisor. We often have clients come to us for seminars which are great opportunities to learn what matters to them. I like the alternative investment space, and I enjoy learning what people are passionate about so I can help them achieve their goals in creative as opposed to traditional ways.
John Wade: Like Aaron, I love relationship building. I love finding solutions for clients’ problems, and that doesn’t happen unless you have good rapport. Once that trust is formed, people open up allowing us to uncover problems or aspects of financial planning that clients might have missed, or an opportunity they didn’t realize they had with their assets. Opportunities arise from a trusting relationship between advisors and clients.
What areas do you see currently as the greatest opportunity for success in the WM Business?
John Wade: Insurance. People are ignoring the insurance vertical, and clients are overpaying for insurance they’ve had for years and years. This isn’t necessarily in the form of a high premium; rather, it’s that they are not buying enough coverage for what their premium is today or they’re not benefitting from tiered price breaks.
As an example, I recently discovered that a client had built-up cash values in an old policy written on old guidelines. During a meeting, the client shared their net worth statement. We knew where everything was, but a glaring error I noticed was that there was no Roth IRA. So, while I knew the answer, I asked the client “Have you always made over $100K since the advent of the Roth IRA?” The client’s answer was yes; therefore, they were never able to capture the kind of growth one could get from a Roth IRA.
We described an option for to them have similar tax-free “income” in retirement would be funding of a universal life insurance policy. Additionally, this policy provides a long-term care rider if that kind of care ever became necessary. The client was thrilled with the recommendation and illustration we provided him and ultimately funding the policy with more than he would have put into a Roth over the last 22 years.
Talk about your specific role and what you’re doing day to day at BRWM.
Aaron Fiske: We’ve taken on different roles because of our personalities. John is focused on traditional wealth management and financial planning, and I’m more focused on business development. Building this practice is a big focus, and we do a lot of networking and recruiting of potential clients, looking for ways we can add value for them. John and I attend a lot of events together, and when I meet people, John will step in and help clients see the big picture and how we can help them.
Why did you decide to join B. Riley Wealth Management?
John Wade: I joined B. Riley Wealth Management from UBS at a time when the financial world was on fire and I wanted something stable. I had built a book there, but when the financial crisis hit, people who were not of a certain production level were pushed out of the big wirehouses, UBS included. When I moved over, I was a bit nervous but my clients affirmed my decision as almost all followed me to B Riley.
The wirehouses are very constricting and insistent upon doing business a certain way, giving little leeway to advisors. What stood out about B. Riley Wealth Management was that I kept hearing the phrase, “There is a better way of doing business,” and I have found that to be true here. B. Riley Wealth Management promotes a family-like atmosphere, yet it’s backed by the diverse national platform of B. Riley Financial. Each division of the company presents an opportunity to be competitive and provide something unique for our clients.
What distinguishes BRWM as a great place to work?
Aaron Fiske: I’m not a number the way I was at the large wirehouse where I previously worked. Senior management is accessible and cares about the success of the financial advisors here. The access to other B. Riley Financial subsidiaries is also a huge plus, and it drives my curiosity about what each division of the larger B. Riley Financial platform is doing. Given that the firm offers so much more support and flexibility than a wirehouse, I’m able to bring everything to the table to assist my clients in pursuit of their passions and goals.
John Wade: Advisors at larger firms are an unknown entity, and clients suffer from that because there is a lack of support for what needs to be done to show clients a certain level of care. That’s not ideal if you want to retain clients for the long run.
Also, we have the flexibility to do interesting things like client events when we know there is an opportunity there, and we have support of the firm in doing so. We have an extremely supportive branch manager who trusts us to do things on our own, and manage our clients’ best interests. Bryant Riley, Co-Chief Executive Officer of B. Riley Financial, has stated his commitment to strengthening and continuing to grow a successful Wealth Management Division.
Aaron Fiske: The culture is very warm here and everyone is approachable. This is a boutique firm where not only does everyone want to see you do well, but it’s backed by major resources. We have the resources to ensure, for example, that someone fly out and meet with prospective ultra-high net worth clients. I now have the confidence to tell my clients, “We can get you to where to you want to go and customize the adventure along the way by tailoring your portfolio to what you want it to be.”
What tools and resources do you have available at BRWM that contribute to your success?
Aaron Fiske: We use the alternative space quite a bit. Not just hedge funds, but 506 private placements, small-cap research, and a lot of tools that other firms may not have access to at the level that we do.