$186M Wells Fargo team to launch incubator following indie move

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Kestra Private Wealth Services has added a former Wells Fargo Advisors practice with $186 million in client assets, boosting its total new affiliated offices for the year to four firms with 11 advisors.

Gary Baker, Dan Kraus and Kim Rubenstein of Undivided Wealth Management plan to launch what Baker describes as a “life incubator” for clients of their suburban St. Louis practice under its new independent status, he says. The practice aligned with Kestra Financial’s subsidiary hybrid RIA in early May.

Including two advisors who joined existing Kestra PWS offices earlier this year, the firm has grabbed about $1 billion in client assets through recruiting in 2018, according to CEO Rob Bartenstein. In January, for example, Kestra PWS poached advisors from Raymond James and D.A. Davidson.

Leaving the wirehouse firm allowed Baker’s practice to further its goal of becoming “a holistic planning lifestyle practice,” which the team had been preparing to do for a long time, Bartenstein says.

“Their brand expression and vision were not going to be allowed, frankly, under a more captive environment,” he says. “Independence allows them to launch this brand vision in a way that they would not be able to under a major brand where it would create brand conflict with the larger brand.”

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo declined to comment on the practice’s exit.

Baker spent nine years with Wells Fargo prior to the Chesterfield, Missouri-based team’s May 9 move, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. His 19 years in the industry also include tenures with Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and PaineWebber.

Rubenstein spent three years with Merrill before her nine years with Wells Fargo, while Kraus had joined Wells Fargo from Morgan Stanley in 2010. Kim Peaker serves as the practice’s director of client services.

Baker came up with the idea for the practice’s transition, he says, when he read an article six or seven years ago predicting that life planning would emerge as a key aspect of advice in the future.

He views the industry as going through a “third evolution” placing clients at the center, after starting as a way of helping people make money and fostering intellectual investment strategies like quantitative methods and asset allocation.

“The shift needs to become, ‘How do I make money for you, in the context of what you want out of life or your career or your business?’” Baker says. “Now, the primary goal is living the life you want and having the experiences you want. However, the fuel has to be the money that you make.”

Undivided plans to open a 10,000-square-foot facility in December about a mile from its office to put the ideas in motion. Once it is up and running next year, Baker predicts it will function as an “information exchange” connecting clients with one another and experts in a variety of fields to explore their goals.

Baker has “a really strong vision for what the future looks like for him and his brand,” Bartenstein says.

San Diego-based Kestra PWS, which was previously known as Washington Wealth Management, expects to add nearly $10 million in gross dealer concessions through recruiting by the end of the year, according to Bartenstein. The firm has 16 offices with about 40 advisors and $3 billion in client assets.

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Going independent Independent BDs Independent advisors RIAs Client communications Rob Bartenstein Kestra Private Wealth Services Kestra Financial Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Advisors