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Goldman Sachs Breakaway: Clients Love My Move … And They’re Following Me

By Rita Raagas De Ramos October 11, 2018

Financial advisor Gary Hirschberg has left Goldman Sachs – where he was responsible for $1.4 billion in client assets – to launch his own independent practice, Aaron Wealth Advisors.

Chicago-based Aaron Wealth Advisors, which will target high net worth investors and their families, is the 47th firm to join the RIA network of Dynasty Financial Partners.

Hirschberg will serve as Aaron Wealth Advisors’ CEO. Others in his practice include chief operation and chief compliance officer David VanFossen, previously of JPMorgan and BMO Harris; director of investments Bill Andrakakos, previously of Northern Trust and Deutsche Bank; and as director of client service and experience Georgette Condos, previously with Morgan Stanley.

At Goldman Sachs, Hirschberg was a private wealth advisor from 2006 to 2018. He specialized in multi-generational families, particularly helping them with issues related to taxation and philanthropy.

Hirschberg shares with FA-IQ what motivated him to turn independent, the timing of his move and his current priorities.

Gary Hirschberg

FA-IQ: Your BrokerCheck record shows you have 11 years experience in the industry all in one firm – Goldman Sachs. After all these years what made you decide now is the time to go independent?

Hirschberg: After doing due diligence, I realized that the world of independent wealth management had changed significantly – the wealth management technology was now stellar, access to diverse investment options and research in the independent space had exploded, and it was very attractive to have the flexibility to run a brand free of institutional constraints.

We will now be able to consult on all aspects of our client’s balance sheet, not just the liquid asset base. This will greatly enhance our ability to give them holistic investment advice. And, for those clients that wish to invest with an eye to social impact, we will be specializing in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) asset allocations.

FA-IQ: Out of all the options available to you – including being completely on your own or joining another RIA network – why did you choose to join Dynasty?

Hirschberg: Working with Mindy Diamond [founder, president and CEO at financial advisor recruiter Diamond Consultants], I was seeking a partner that would be able to understand and support my large practice and my high net worth client base. And, to be honest, I really liked the people at Dynasty – they are an impressive group of people in the independent space.

FA-IQ: What’s the origin of your company name, Aaron Wealth Advisors?

Hirschberg: When it came time to name the company, I was searching for a name that would invoke the ethics and integrity I wanted the brand to represent. My grandfather, Aaron, came to mind immediately, which led me to the biblical character of Aaron. In my opinion, Aaron was the first trusted advisor to the most consequential person in the community, his brother Moses. As confidant and counsel, Aaron served with a respect, humility, and objectivity that ultimately aided Moses in the fulfillment of his mission. We have confidence that if we are true to these values we will be highly successful.

FA-IQ: At Goldman Sachs, you managed a team that was overseeing around $1.4 billion in client assets. Will other advisors in that team be joining you at your firm?

Hirschberg: I worked with some great people at Goldman Sachs and really enjoyed working with my team there. That said, when I decided to launch my own firm, it was a chance to tap professionals from different firms and leverage their experience. My new team comes from Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust/Deutsche Bank and BMO Harris/JP Morgan.

FA-IQ: Will you be hiring other advisors to join your firm? What’s your ideal number of advisors for your firm and where do you think these advisors will be coming from?

Hirschberg: Over time, we do plan to bring on other advisors. Our firm is based in Chicago, Ill. and we have plans to invest in an Indianapolis office in 2019. Since we launched our firm a few days ago, at this point, I can’t speculate on total number of advisors, but we do plan on expanding.

FA-IQ: Will you be taking your former clients at Goldman Sachs and their $1.4 billion in assets with you to your firm?

Hirschberg: Again, we launched just a few days ago but the response from clients has been very positive. It is heartening to have such a strong enthusiastic reaction. I just spoke to the first client I ever had, and he plans to follow me. I was grateful when he took a chance on me 12 years ago and now I’m humbled to be in a position where I can repay his years of trust with a heightened level of service.

FA-IQ: What types of clients will you be targeting at your firm?

Hirschberg: Aaron Wealth Advisors is focused on helping successful entrepreneurs, sophisticated investors, multi-generational families, and family offices in Chicago, Indianapolis and beyond.

FA-IQ: Why is this the client segment you are targeting?

Hirschberg: I have deep experience working with large families and solving their complex financial needs. I particularly enjoy working on philanthropic initiatives as well as helping these clients leave a lasting impact on the communities that are important to them. I began my career in the non-profit fundraising space, so I have a profound appreciation for those who give of themselves to better the world around them.

FA-IQ: What are the investment strategies, products and services that you plan to offer your clients?

Hirschberg: We have forged several strategic partnerships whose aggregated expertise, in our opinion, gives our firm a distinctive competitive advantage in sourcing products, platforms, services and technology solutions from across the industry. We have built a customizable, open-architecture platform, which allows us to utilize only those resources and solutions which we believe will most benefit our clients. In our opinion, this reduces competing interests and places our sole focus on the goals and needs of our clients.

The infrastructure of our platform is designed to provide our clients with quality solutions for their financial needs. Whether they require family office services, traditional investment vehicles, private investments, or ESG/impact solutions, we have the ability to offer a fully allocated, customized portfolio coupled with comprehensive reporting on all their assets.

FA-IQ: What would set your firm apart from your competition?

Hirschberg: Our mission is to enhance our institutional-quality platform with both highly personalized services and a comprehensive array of independent investment solutions that are designed to simplify and manage the complexities of our clients’ wealth.

As a completely independent firm, we will now be able to consult on all aspects of our client’s balance sheet, not just the liquid asset base. This will greatly enhance our ability to give them holistic investment advice. And we will now have access to products and services from across Wall Street which will greatly benefit our clients.

In addition, we believe our clients deserve to be as well-informed as we are, if they so desire. There’s no “black-box” here. For this reason, we offer our clients education and engagement opportunities which will aide them in learning from us and each other. This will include proprietary research, timely and topical thought leadership, investment and estate planning education, client educational cohorts and charitable giving lessons for children.

FA-IQ: What was the hardest part of your transition from Goldman Sachs to independence?

Hirschberg: I lost my voice several days after our launch – the result of 12-hour days on the phone and in meetings. It has been an intense but rewarding effort to launch Aaron Wealth Advisors and a big bonding event for me and my team.

FA-IQ: What was the part of your transition that was not as hard as you thought it would be?

Hirschberg: I am pleased at how readily our clients understood and supported our launch to independence. They understand the benefits of minimal conflicts and open architecture. Their willingness to learn about this next evolution of our relationship and the recognition of the trust we have built over many years has been a humbling experience for me.

FA-IQ: What will you be prioritizing in terms of your firm/business/practice in the next six months?

Hirschberg: I will be reaching out to all my relationships to share with them what we as a firm can offer. For those that decide to place their trust in me again, I will be working to get them transitioned over successfully to our new firm. We will also be working to connect with others in the professional community in Chicago and Indianapolis to introduce them and their clients to Aaron Wealth. In addition, I plan to open an office in Indianapolis by early 2019 – a very important market for me and the firm.

* This interview is part of an occasional series highlighting advisors who have broken away from their previous firms.