Three young executives hope to change the perception of wealth management.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Until recently, Tim Bickmore, Dan Weiss, and Nathaniel Leach were coworkers at another area investment advisory firm.
Now they’re cofounders of their own company.
Young, resourceful, and filled with ideas, they had a collective vision for a different type of a wealth management company, and when their vision didn’t match the road they were heading down, they struck out on their own. “It’s not that we had a particular desire to be business owners,” notes Weiss.
Last October, Leach, 30, Bickmore, 26, and Weiss, 33, launched Leach, Bickmore & Weiss Wealth Management, or “LBW,” with the goal of transforming how wealth management is perceived as an industry. “It’s kind of diluted and misunderstood,” admits Bickmore.
LBW, they say, promises to be upfront with clients about fees and investment philosophy. “We don’t follow a basic asset allocation type of modeling, for example, and we don’t sell a product. We sell ourselves,” notes Weiss.
With most clients under the age of 50, LBW is targeting a younger demographic or new investors who may believe, wrongly, that investment expertise is only for the wealthy. “There’s a huge part of the population that doesn’t think they could or should have access to someone like us, and we want to change that.”
Bickmore and Weiss are financial advisors while Leach is the company’s portfolio manager and chief compliance officer. By design, there is no CEO. “This is a collaborative effort — not just between us and our clients but between all of us — so we’re all equal,” notes Weiss. “We don’t step on each other’s toes because we don’t do the same things.”
Leach handles the portfolio and money details, Bickmore’s strength is in financial planning and marketing, and Weiss is skilled in risk management and business development. “We all feed off each other. Organizational efficiency has been a big deal for us,” notes Bickmore. “It can’t be the Tim and Dan show. It needs to be the LBW show.”
Prioritizing when and when not to be frugal was key as the team planned for launch. While they refused to skimp on technology, they chose to furnish the office with gently used furniture, artwork, and framed photographs borrowed from friends. LBW’s logo and website was designed internally with the help of Leach’s wife, Ying, who also helps in the office.
They also critically examined their own strengths and weaknesses, dipped into their personal savings, established lines of credit on their homes, and projected everything from worst-case scenarios to possible midlife crises. “We spend a lot of time together and we know what we want,” notes Weiss. “It’s like a marriage but more complex.”
SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, also provided an invaluable resource, particularly when it came to marketing. “SCORE is a free service with excellent professionals,” notes Bickmore. “We’re financial professionals, not marketers, and we had no mentors when it came to funding.”
“We spend a lot of time together and we know what we want. It’s like a marriage but more complex.” — Dan Weiss, LBW Wealth Management
LBW has managed to operate close to expectations thus far, they report. Bolstering the company’s cash flow is Weiss’ previous book of business amounting to nearly $14 million in assets and more than 130 accounts representing about 60 households. A dozen more households have been added since October.
The cofounders say going off on their own is both liberating and frightening. They haven’t been paid yet and know they may not see a regular income for a while. Still they hope to bring in $10 million to $15 million in new assets a year.
“If we wanted this to be easy we definitely wouldn’t have left [our former employer],” admits Bickmore, “but now we get to be creative in a different way. To rethink the industry and ask, ‘Why do we have to be like this?’ We can evolve as things and times change. We don’t want to be the firm that gets left behind.
“The fact that we can trust each other has been hugely beneficial. We’re three very different people, but we’re in this business together like the Three Musketeers. All for one and one for all.”
Leach, Bickmore & Weiss Wealth Management
6425 Odana Road #25
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 286-1321 | lbw-wealth.com
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