20 people who will change wealth management in 2020

20 people to watch in 2020 list

Stringent regulations, stiff competition and colossal mergers are just some of the challenges awaiting advisors and wealth management firms in 2020.

The men and women listed below will be tasked with navigating these headwinds, sometimes pushing back against change and at other times demanding it arrive at a faster clip.

Some of the faces will already be familiar to advisors, while others may soon be household names. In either case, these CEOs, regulators, financial planners and tech experts will be worth watching in 2020.

To arrive at this list, reporters and editors reflected on this year's newsmakers and who would likely make waves in 2020. After lengthy and engaged debates — sometimes quite heated — we arrived at what is admittedly an informed but subjective take on what's ahead for wealth management.

Jim Gold, CEO of Steward Partners
Jim Gold CEO Steward Partners
Few firms have experienced as much growth as Steward Partners has in recent years. The independent firm affiliated with Raymond James and founded in 2013 by ex-wirehouse managers now fields more than 100 advisors operating from more than 20 offices. Under CEO Jim Gold, the firm’s expansion continued in 2019 with more fresh recruits and the unveiling of new independent affiliation option. In 2020, potential recruits as well as competitors will look to see how the firm’s newest offering performs and how it will stay relevant in a competitive hiring environment.
Kristin Lemkau, CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s new U.S. wealth management business
Kristin Lemkau, CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s U.S. wealth management business
JPMorgan Chase has aggressively shaken up its wealth management business and it’s tapped former CMO Kristin Lemkau to lead the changes.

Over the next year, Lemkau will be in charge of integrating about 4,000 advisors from 3,500 branches and 21 offices into one unit. Under her purview, four units — Chase Wealth Management, Digital Wealth Management, You Invest and J.P. Morgan Securities — will be folded into one wealth management business with $4 billion in AUM. The move comes amid industry consolidation, the rise of passive and robos, fierce competition and digitization.

Lemkau is also tasked with hiring more advisors, creating new digital capabilities and building stronger advisor tools. No small task. JPMorgan suggests the new unit will help its planners “serve every client in whatever way they would like to invest — self-directed, digitally, or with advisors in branches or in offices,” according to a statement. If successful, the change means non-JPMorgan Chase advisors will face stiffer competition for clients who demand an array of services.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Cropped Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate, in Las Vegas, on Oct. 2, 2019
She may not become president — she may not even capture the Democratic nomination. But Warren’s determined efforts to boost consumer protections and curtail Wall Street’s influence and alleged abuses has reframed the terms of the debate and is already influencing the course of the presidential race. And if she does become the 46th president of the United States, she will wield tremendous influence over key regulators. Could the fiduciary rule make a comeback in 2021, or could FINRA face more public scrutiny than the private regulator has ever faced before?
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at Consumer Federation of America
Barbara Roper Consumer Federation of America
Longtime consumer advocate and frequent sparring partner with Wall Street, Roper has been pushing for stronger investor protections, including a fiduciary rule. In the Trump era, she and other consumer advocates have become fierce critics of recent SEC rules and initiatives such as Regulation Best Interest, which they say falls well short of defending client interests. Her voice will likely help shape coming debates over state regulatory efforts to craft new fiduciary rules.
Lule Demmissie, president of Ally Invest
Demmissie, the new president of Ally Invest, wants her firm to be “relevant, in the moment, in the culture,” to clients. Under her leadership, Ally’s robo dropped fees on its robo advisor in September, with the requirement that clients keep at least 30% of their portfolios in cash so the company can still bring in revenue. As a first-generation American and a member of the LGBTQ community, Demmissie is a new voice in financial services and an advocate for diversity and inclusion in wealth management.
Renée Baker, head of advisor inclusion networks at Raymond James
Renée Baker, head of advisor inclusion networks Raymond James Women's Symposium 9/13/19
Baker is the new leader of advisor diversity and inclusion at Raymond James. Intentional and long-term strategies may be what it takes to make greater inclusion of women and minorities a reality at wealth management firms, which have historically suffered from a lack of diversity among their advisor ranks, she says. Among other initiatives, Raymond James in January will roll out a wealth management associate program designed to teach new careerists many aspects of the profession.
Neesha Hathi, chief digital officer at Charles Schwab
Neesha Hathi
From her perch atop Schwab’s digital services arm, Hathi has big responsibilities. The firm serves more than $3.7 trillion in client assets and over 12 million brokerage accounts. Schwab's Intelligent Portfolios was the first incumbent platform to switch to a subscription model in March. In the first three months, the discount brokerage tacked on $1 billion in new assets under management. With the takeover of TD Ameritrade, Hathi will be tasked with new challenges that affect thousands of RIAs and clients. These include integrating TD's Personal Portfolio and heading up a new robo-advice behemoth that will likely manage more than $50 billion in client assets.
Tyrone Ross Jr., financial consultant and startup advisor
Tyrone Ross, financial consultant and start-up advisor
Ross has been a must-follow on Twitter (@TR401) for years, but he’s now extending into new mediums and fields. In September, he joined ETF issuer Exponential ETFs to run a financial education and coaching program in Detroit. A few days earlier, he had launched a new podcast called “The Human Advisor,” aimed at “a new breed of modern advisors who want to make a difference, do something meaningful, and actually help people.”

From topical videos he posts online to charity drives Ross assembles at the drop of a Tweet, he’s propelling change at all hours of the day. In 2020, his efforts will no doubt attract even more followers. He already has nearly 10,000.
John Peluso, Wells Fargo First Clearing, and Robb Baldwin, TradePMR
John Peluso, president of Wells Fargo's First Clearing
In partnership with the custodian TradePMR, Wells Fargo officially launched its new RIA channel in 2019, the first attempt from a wirehouse to do so. John Peluso, president of Wells Fargo's First Clearing (pictured), and Robb Baldwin, CEO of TradePMR, anticipate opening the doors of the new offering to non-Wells Fargo advisors in 2020. RIAs, breakaway brokers and other wirehouses will be watching Wells Fargo to evaluate whether it can gain traction in the marketplace.
Tim Gokey, CEO of Broadridge Financial
Since becoming CEO of Broadridge Financial Solutions in January, Tim Gokey has overseen the firm's expansion in wealth management services.
Broadridge Financial, a provider of communications, technology, data and analytics tools to financial companies, has been making deeper forays into wealth management. The firm is building a new advisor desktop with UBS. It also acquired Fi360, which provides advisor education and training, and also runs a popular fiduciary-themed conference. Will the firm make more inroads into wealth management? How will it leverage its most recent acquisition? The answers, and Gokey's leadership in 2020, will determine what new digital innovations the firm rolls out and how Fi360 may change.
Sonya Dreizler, author and consultant
Sonya Dreizler, wealth management consultant CROPPED
Dreizler's "Do Better" blog has drawn widespread attention and praise for spotlighting the struggles of women in financial services. The posts, which consist of dozens of anonymous accounts of women who have been sexually assaulted, harassed or discriminated against, prompted one woman to go public with her account of being assaulted at an industry party. The series captures women “leaving roles they wanted, speaking up less and taking [fewer] calculated risks,” Dreizler writes. “Collectively, this adds up to a stunning loss of ideas and talent.” Dreizler, having opened a deep well of women's anger and pain around sexual harassment in financial services, is considering her next steps now that the blog has wrapped up. Her busy speaking schedule and new-found prominence around this topic will assure her continued influence.
Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist
Jason Wenk Altruist 10/31
Founder of the new, digital-only custodian Altruist, Wenk wants to raise the bar for transparency and innovation in an industry he says lacks both. Built exclusively for fee-only RIAs, Altruist is expected to launch in January. Next year will reveal whether Altruist holds its own against established custodial competitors, including a possible new Schwab-TD Ameritrade entity.
Enrique Vasquez, president of wealth management at Blucora
Enrique Vasquez, president of wealth management at Blucora
Vasquez is in the middle of carrying out major changes at the firm previously known as HD Vest. After parent firm Blucora purchased 1st Global for $180 million earlier this year, it moved to combine the two IBDs into Avantax Wealth Management under a new chief executive in a new headquarters.

Vasquez will be leading Blucora’s wealth management unit into the new era next year.
Jamie Price, CEO of Advisor Group
Jamie Price 1116.jpg
The network of four large independent broker-dealers is adding five more to the mix, under its agreement to purchase Ladenburg Thalmann for $1.3 billion next year. The blockbuster deal came after Advisor Group itself changed hands in the largest deal of the year in the IBD sector — as Reverence Capital Partners bought 75% of the network.

Private equity-backed Advisor Group will grow to some 11,500 advisors with $450 billion in client assets under the Ladenburg acquisition, with Price leading the combined network. His next moves will decide if the firm will become a challenger to LPL Financial’s IBD dominance.
D.A. Abrams, managing director of the Center for Financial Planning
D.A. Abrams, managing director of the Center for Financial Planning
The CFP Board's Center for Financial Planning is at the forefront of efforts to promote diversity within wealth management. As the center’s new managing director, Abrams will play a key role spearheading and building upon existing initiatives started under his predecessor, inaugural director Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis. She retired in 2019. Abrams has a big task ahead of him. Less than 3.5% of the 80,000 CFP professionals in the U.S. are black or Latino, according to CFP Board data. That is woefully out of sync with the nation’s overall demographics. In 2020, he has a chance to make his mark on the center and the planning profession.
David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs
David Solomon, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday, April 29, 201
Solomon has his sights set on the mass-affluent market in financial services.

Following its launch of digital bank Marcus three years ago, Goldman bought RIA United Capital and its FinLife wealth management platform in May for $750 million. The big question for 2020 is what will Goldman do with the properties?

A juiced-up FinLife third-party platform that includes a robo advisor, banking services, a tech stack for advisors and tools for clients will be a priority, United CEO Joe Duran told advisors at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami Beach in December.

Industry insiders will be keen to see what emerges on Jan. 29, when Solomon is expected to reveal more answers at Goldman’s annual meeting.
Bill Crager, interim CEO of Envestnet
Envestnet suffered a tragic loss when CEO Jud Bergman was killed in a car crash in October. The man on the spot in 2020 is co-founder Bill Crager. As interim CEO, he now oversees one of the most powerful companies in the advisory business — the TAMP and tech provider has more than 100,000 financial advisors overseeing some $3.5 trillion in assets — and plans to accelerate growth.

“We’re not taking the foot off the gas,” Crager recently told Financial Planning. “The seeds have been planted. We’re going to continue to be acquisitive and integrate things that we have. We believe we’re at the frontier of the future of advice, where there will be more interactivity between humans and digital.”
Alphabet Inc. Google And Gmail Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures
The tech titan is encroaching on financial services, having recently announced a partnership with Citigroup to offer checking products for its customers in 2020. While the accounts will likely be used to collect client data and peek more deeply into customer behavior, they also position the search engine giant closer to the traditional purview of wealth management. What's stopping Google from partnering with a broker-dealer to offer managed accounts? For many experts, the answer is nothing.
State regulators
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is imposing a "heightened duty of care" on broker-dealers.
Massachusetts’ William Galvin and other state regulators are moving ahead with their own fiduciary rules, setting up renewed clashes between Wall Street lobbying groups and consumer advocates. Galvin and others have cited what they say are the weaknesses of the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest. Despite its name, critics say, it does little to actually protect clients’ interests.

Deeming fiduciary to be the gold standard, New Jersey, Massachusetts and others have either proposed their own rules or made moves to do so. Advisors should expect these to gain traction in 2020 — and for their effects to be felt well beyond state
Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab
Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab, speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco
2019 was a big year for Charles Schwab. 2020 will be even bigger.

In the spotlight is Bettinger’s handling of the planned merger with one of the largest RIA custodians and discount brokerages, TD Ameritrade, which the company agreed to purchase for $26 billion this year. Schwab has made big moves this year that will continue to ripple through the industry into 2020, including its new subscription pricing model for its robo advisor and move to zero commissions on ETF, equity and options trades. The latter may lead to further industry consolidation.