There’s a new flag flying over our office in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It’s modest in size—just a few feet square. The flag is a 30th birthday reminder for our team and clients here at GW & Wade, a wealth management firm founded on a simple premise.
Back in 1986, we thought we could do business better—that we could offer something special to people needing comprehensive financial advice. So my two founding partners and I left our secure jobs to embark on a journey. We didn’t want to sell a bunch of products. We wanted to be one-stop shopping for investment advice and tax planning.
The idea took off, bringing GW & Wade from three employees at our founding to 65 now; from a handful of clients to approximately 2,400 across the U.S. (and indeed in several countries); from a few modest portfolios to $5.5 billion in managed assets*. And this growth has come almost exclusively from introductions by our clients and referrals from other professionals..
These numbers validate the clear, client-centric goal that Mike, Dick, and I had in mind when we sat down together in 1986. We literally did a business plan on an envelope. If I still had that rough blueprint, it would probably read something like: serve clients exceptionally well, and keep them for the long haul.
That remains the goal today. Many of our earliest clients (more like family members now), continue to define and differentiate our business. Every day they reaffirm the expertise we provide, not just by remaining long-time patrons, but by sharing our name so enthusiastically with friends and relatives. We’re especially proud of the many partnerships we’ve forged that span second and third generations. Looking forward, we hope to continue on this path, cultivating long-term relationships that are truly valued by the participants on both ends.
Even though the industry has changed quite a bit since 1986—a few financial crises, major regulatory changes, new investment products—none of it has moved us away from our founding principles. The regulatory piece means we now have compliance requirements, of course. But our core focus—holistic wealth management, integrated tax planning , and paying attention to our clients—these concepts are so ingrained in what we provide, they’re almost boring. Almost…
…Except that clients keep telling us how refreshing we are, in contrast to what they’ve experienced with impersonal wealth management firms. Time and again, new clients who come to us from the big banks and brokerages explain, “I was tired of being SOLD stuff. I just wanted sound advice.” At GW & Wade we don’t claim to be perfect. But we are always responsive, invested, competent, and honest.
And we intend to remain that way over the next 30 years, which is why we’re so serious about succession planning. We put an unusual amount of time and energy into developing our people. (Did you know it can take 7 to 10 years for a new hire to become a full-fledged financial counselor here?)
The flipside of grooming the best people? Giving them space and time to do great work. And although we are committed to our responsibly growing our business, we’re not looking beyond the boundaries of sustainable growth. In short, we’ll never allow ourselves to grow at the expense of serving our clients as we have from the beginning.
So here’s to everyone who helped us reach this milestone. You inspire us to be a leader among wealth management firms, and to always be worthy of your loyalty. Thank you.
**As of March 31, 2016