Home Life Insurance CEO: To Lead an RIA, ‘You Must Perceive Folks’

CEO: To Lead an RIA, ‘You Must Perceive Folks’

CEO: To Lead an RIA, ‘You Must Perceive Folks’


Heather Robertson Fortner just isn’t a monetary advisor however absolutely understands what makes individuals tick, which is an enormous purpose for her placing collectively advisor groups that ship top-notch outcomes and glorious consumer experiences.

Fortner is CEO and chair of Atlanta-based SignatureFD, which manages practically $70 billion in consumer property.

“In our trade, the place technical data is paramount, it’s assumed that simply because you could have a CFA or CFP subsequent to your identify, you’re additionally an excellent chief of individuals,” Fortner argues in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

“However,” she stresses, “you must perceive individuals much more than the technical parts.”

Fortner, who began on the agency in 2003 as a consumer affiliate and was named CEO in 2020, has a grasp’s diploma in skilled counseling and has earned standing as an funding adviser licensed compliance skilled.

Within the interview, Fortner, who serves on the Goldman Sachs Advisor Options Panel, describes her ascent to chief compliance officer, director of operations, president and in the end to CEO, the agency’s first lady within the publish.

She bucked, and clearly overcame, colleagues’ preliminary doubt {that a} non-advisor would be capable to lead an RIA.

SignatureFD, which has 30 advisors and a second workplace in Charlotte, North Carolina, has had double-digit development yr after yr ever since Fortner took over improvement of its operational platform and tech stack.

However what she takes most delight in is inspiring girls who’ve labored on the agency for a number of years to qualify for management positions. In the present day, SignatureFD’s management group is 90% feminine.

Within the latest interview with Fortner, she particulars two main upcoming tendencies: the large wealth switch amongst people and the following technology’s shift to new applied sciences that may emerge in 5 years.

Listed here are excerpts from that cellphone dialog:

THINKADVISOR: As CEO of SignatureFD, what’s been your largest success?

HEATHER FORTNER: I’m most proud that our senior management group is majority-female, girls who’ve spent many, a few years rising up with our group.

I’ve had a big half in serving to them study what they wanted as a way to be glorious at their craft.

I imagine that our agency is uniquely positioned for the longer term as a women-led group.

What classes have you ever realized as CEO?

One which I actually maintain pricey is knowing that your IQ is sort of not as essential as your EQ [emotional quotient].

I’ve a graduate diploma in skilled counseling, so I really feel that I’ve had a little bit little bit of an unfair benefit in understanding individuals and programs and the significance of how these work collectively.

In our trade, the place technical data is paramount, it’s assumed that simply because you could have a CFA or CFP subsequent to your identify, you’re additionally an excellent chief of individuals.

However you must perceive individuals much more than the technical parts of the enterprise.

Have you ever made any errors as CEO?

Two issues I actually acquired improper. One was after I grew to become CEO in 2020, there was the idea {that a} non-advisor couldn’t lead a registered funding advisor providers agency.

I don’t serve shoppers, and there was this actual perception voiced again and again {that a} non-advisor couldn’t lead an advisory agency.

So one in all my largest errors was permitting that doubt to actually get into my head, and I killed myself to get outcomes that I assumed would communicate to the truth that I used to be certified to be in that seat.

I in all probability might have pulled again a little bit and never spent as a lot time attempting to show to everyone that I used to be worthy of it.

What was the opposite factor you bought improper?

Once I grew to become CEO at 45, I assumed I had to surrender the dream of getting a second child due to that first mistake I simply talked about:

They don’t even suppose I can do that job — so how on the earth would getting pregnant and having a child on the similar time I’m attempting to show I’m worthy to be a CEO assist something?

However [my colleagues] have been so overjoyed for me after I acquired pregnant once more. 

In the end, I trusted that folks I’d been on this journey with for thus lengthy actually had my greatest curiosity at coronary heart.

Another huge studying expertise?

In organizations and management, there’s a degree of [corporate] political acumen that’s required to navigate [the system].

I don’t suppose you’ll be able to simply put your head down and never have to know find out how to function in that world of management and governance our bodies.

My assumption was that if I simply didn’t have interaction in quite a lot of that dialog, it could all be effective. However I actually needed to study to hit it head-on.

Has the agency all the time centered on high-net-worth shoppers?

Sure, due to our origins. The three unique founders had an accounting agency and wished to [do more financial planning with clients].

They agreed that there was a chance for them to lean into the manager and enterprise proprietor group that they already had relationships with.

It was an exquisite strategy to seed the enterprise.



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