Four breakaway Morgan Stanley advisers aim to focus on their clients' and advisers' "financial, mental and physical" health through a new and unusual partnership with retirement plan consultant, MGO Investment Advisors.

The ex-wirehouse advisers – Todd Resnick, Michael Mawby, Stuart Gertman and Bruce Greenwald – managed $600 million in client assets at Morgan, Resnick says. They expect most of the assets to follow them to their new hybrid RIA and broker-dealer. They are now affiliated with independent broker-dealer Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.

Image: Bloomberg News

We Are One Seven was founded by the four advisers and three principals at Cleveland-based MGO Investment, Ronald Gross, Richard Gross and Paul Orchosky.

SEVEN ADVISERS, ONE VISION

One Seven, the founders' preferred shorthand for their new name, has offices in Cleveland and Park City, and hopes to attract many more advisers to join them at the firm, according to Resnick.

The seven advisers named the company after their shared vision to provide broadly comprehensive holistic advice to their clients and to move away from sales practices common in wirehouses, Resnick says.

They wanted to focus more on the big picture than just products and sales, he says.
Several years ago, Resnick and Ronald Gross, MGO's CEO, met by chance "and discovered that they were two minds with a similar idea. Both were increasingly dismayed by the commoditization of fees, products and services within the wirehouse world and felt there had to be a better way," according to a statement.

'WE DON'T NEED FANCY PRODUCTS'

"It was a chance for us to say, 'OK, how do we want to simplify our business?'" Resnick said in an interview. He and his partners decided that, "We don't need all of the fancy products. We don't need all of the stuff that is out there that is not delivering what people want from a transparency standpoint."

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At each of their new offices, Resnick says he and his partners plan to hang large "gratitude boards" where they will ask clients to write down something they are grateful for on a particular visit. The idea is to engage clients in deep conversations right off the bat, Resnick says.

"I think that's a real quick way for the adviser to say, 'Well, let's talk about that,'" he says.

MGO Investments will remain distinct from One Seven, Ronald Gross says, while the new venture will offer new services to the retirement plan advisory firm's existing clients.

"This will add a new service model for our high-end business owners," Gross says. "This is giving us that avenue to meet them in their personal lives and their personal wealth outside of their retirement plans."

SEEKING 'LIKE-MINDED' ADVISERS

MGO's clientele is primarily business owners, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants and other entrepreneurs, based within a two-hour drive of Cleveland.

For years, MGO has hosted wine-tasting, cooking and other social events for its clients. A holistic wealth advisory arm is a natural extension of those activities, Gross says. He and Resnick say they hope to expand their business by adding other advisers in different offices, and hope to hold each One Seven office to no more than eight advisers.

"If we got six new like-minded advisers in the next 12 months who get it the way we get it, that would be fantastic," Gross says.