4 min read October 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Glenn Ullmann, president of wealth management firm Ullmann Wealth Partners, talked about his experience in the financial management sector in Jacksonville. The discussion also centered on what the firm is currently experiencing when it comes to financial literacy, recruiting and retaining quality talent, and protecting the business and clients in regard to data security.
What has been keeping you busy in the past year?
For us, it is about continuing to bring in and retain great talent. Our wealth management process is centered around three main areas: Investment Management, Advance Planning and Relationship Management. Most people in our business are really focused just on the investment management piece but not so much the other areas. We have deep expertise in the investment area but also talent in the other areas. We make sure to include advanced planning (increasing cash flow, reducing debt and taxes, protecting wealth against unforeseen circumstances, philanthropy, and estate planning) and working with other experts to make sure clients have what they need in place. Relationship management includes giving clients access and expertise when it comes to the things they need, whether it is resources or services.
In terms of talent, what do you look for?
We are a firm of 12 and I would say in the past our new talent has come from “chance” encounters with people we know in the community. Our general counsel, Pat Kilbane, is someone I worked with in the past on client divorce cases. We met for lunch one day and when he saw how well our business was doing, we got on the subject of him leaving the practice of Family Law and joining the firm. Brian James, who runs our investment side, was a neighbor of mine. We didn’t have a spot for him when we met and in fact talked off and on for a year, but when you see great talent, sometimes you just have to figure out how to bring them on board which is what we did.
How has your presence grown in Northeast Florida in the past year?
Year over year, we have dramatically grown the practice through client referrals, our network of other professionals such as attorneys and CPAs, and our specialty in guiding high net worth clients through the divorce process. Our Divorce Advisory Group is unique in the region, we get involved in the divorce process for high-net-worth nonworking spouses often from the very first inkling of divorce. Not only have we published a book on the subject, but we also have a deep well of resources on every major topic to help reduce the anxiety and stress of the process and lead to the best financial settlement.
How have you managed client expectations, financial literacy and education?
I have been a wealth manager for almost three decades. Clients want and need education and they want you to be in their corner with advice and counsel. We do that through outreach but also our website contains the two books we have written, blogs and webinars. I’ve been told that our content creation is pretty good compared to other firms of our size. We just did one with a funeral director regarding how you pre-plan your final wishes so that your kids aren’t left wondering what you wanted. Periodically we have conducted classes for young adults, and with the advent of remote learning like Zoom, we can now reach more people without the logistics of creating a big meeting.
No matter what the issue is, if a client has concerns either big or small, there is always an avenue open because our job is to manage investment behavior.
Have there been any changes you have noticed between different generations?
There are broad generalities that apply to different generations. Young people like to do a lot of things on their own, with cryptocurrency being a recent example. Our job as a fiduciary is to be able to provide guidance on things like that, which is why several of our team completed continued education in digital assets. Young investors are also very adept at technology. If you were born any time after the year 2000, you essentially started communicating on a smartphone. So as a firm we must make sure that our interfaces with clients are attractive, sticky and interesting to keep up with what is going on.
We also know that there are people with high income but who are not rich yet. But these clients need advice on how to create an investment program, save regularly and do the advanced planning. Good advice at this stage of life allows them to grow their wealth slowly but successfully over time—and often these clients end up building and then selling businesses which provide sudden wealth that can be integrated into their already established structure.
With the later generation, we really talk a lot about spending and giving people the permission to spend the money they have saved so they are enjoying the fruits of their labor. After saving and investing for a lifetime, advanced planning gives them the confidence to enjoy what they have created, and also leave a legacy for their children, grandchildren and charities.
What is unique about Jacksonville compared to neighboring markets?
Jacksonville is an old city and because I’ve been here for 30 years, I have seen how things have changed as new people come in who don’t have ties to Jacksonville. It is hard for a firm like ours to bust into old money but because of all the new money, you don’t have to bust into anything.
How are you addressing cyber and data security risks?
We have created several webinars and blogs on this, and it is a huge issue. Everything we do is encrypted and you can’t operate in wealth management without worrying everyday about cybercrime. Every firm has to have the appropriate procedures in place. We have incorporated outside technology consultants to keep our defenses as high as possible and conduct quarterly training for all our employees. We also try to educate our clients as well. And any time any email or text doesn’t seem quite right, the best way to defeat the cyber criminals is very old school—we pick up the telephone and call the client to confirm the credibility of what is being requested.
What do you think the financial advisory sector will look like in the next five years?
There is great talent in Jacksonville and if you enjoy helping people problem solve and grow their wealth, this is a parabolic growth industry. An enormous transfer of wealth from the World War II generation to the baby boom generation is well underway. From that generation there is going to be a further transfer to young people who are possibly unprepared. For great wealth management firms who are in the advice business, this is a great place to be. I think the next three to twenty years will be extraordinary.
And I would add this: Our country continues to be THE place to create and implement new ideas—grow businesses and wealth. Millions of immigrants want to come to the United States—they are not trying to emigrate to China—they want to come here. And that also means there is not a better time to be in wealth management.
What do your priorities look like going forward?
It is making sure we know what clients want and being able to deliver for them. We also need to be proactive with advice and make sure we continue to attract and retain the best talent. The great Wayne Gretzky always said that he was a great hockey player because he had a knack for skating to where the puck was going to be—not where it was at that moment. As long as we continue to think ahead, things will be great.
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