Meet William Glubiak, CEO of $2 billion firm Cedar Brook Group

He's pursuing an aggressive growth strategy and learning from past mistakes

May 24, 2018 @ 5:01 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

William Glubiak is in the middle of moving Cedar Brook Group from a brokerage model to a hybrid firm with a registered investment adviser, a strategy he expects will lead to explosive growth.

In this edited interview, the CEO of the $2 billion firm talks about his management style and a painful episode five years ago when Mr. Glubiak and other Securities America brokers faced Finra sanctions because they had sold private placements that later turned out to be fraudulent.

"It was by far the most professionally challenging period of time that I've ever been a part of, and I hope I never have to face that again," Mr. Glubiak said.

Jeff Benjamin: What is the role of a leader in an organization?

William Glubiak: The line I use is that leadership matters, and leaders matter.

The leader sets a tone more by actions than words.

JB: Where do you think you fall short as a leader?

WG: I probably don't spend enough time internally. I'm outside a lot, mostly as a result of forming this hybrid RIA. It has forced me to go outside the office more than I would like. I'd rather be inside talking to people, dealing with people, and seeing what they're up to.

JB: Tell me about someone who influenced your life.

WG: By far, the person who influenced me the most was my father. He was New York City policeman. I had four siblings, and my dad worked three jobs because he believed education was the way out of the lifestyle we had, and we all went to private schools.

All of us now have advanced degrees, and it is because he sacrificed so we would have enough money to get an education.

JB: What kind of feedback have you received over the years about the way you manage?

WG: I have a very personal approach and for the most part that is desired and accepted, and people like that. I try to find out what people have going on in their personal lives, and business lives. A few years ago I met with everyone in the company, about 70 people, and I asked them one-on-one over dinner or breakfast, how are you doing, how are we doing, what can I do to help you?

JB: What qualities do you look for in potential hires?

WG: Loyalty, authenticity and integrity.

JB: Is there anything you don't tolerate from the people who report to you?

WG: The big one is lack of integrity. We're in a business where you have to have high integrity. If you demonstrate that you're not a person of high integrity, you won't survive at Cedar Brook.

JB: How do you encourage employees to deal with conflict?

WG: I've been studying Ray Dalio for a long time. His message is radical transparency and radical truth. Conflict, I believe, has to be identified and addressed amongst the people having the conflict.

JB: Tell me about a time you've faced adversity in your career.

WG: The downturn in 2008 led to some really bad things for some people that I really care for, that I've known my whole working career.

And we were down on our knees, we were really, really in a bad spot. We got front page coverage for bad stuff.

I knew the people being accused of those things were not those kind of people.

And it was a very trying time. Personally, and professionally. It was difficult to keep the company focused on client issues.

JB: What was the fallout from that?

WG: We lost some advisers. We had two advisers go on suspension. They came back, everything was great. We lost no clients.

Our clients were extremely supportive. And the fallout was, I think we're better people as a result of going through that.

I know we're better people and I know we're a better company as a result of going through that. I would not recommend it to anybody, but we're much stronger as a firm, much stronger in our relationships, much stronger with our clients.

When you get kicked in your teeth, and you go down and get kicked again, you either fall over or you get up and run.

JB: Tell me what you learned from that whole experience.

WG: Everyone reacts to adversity in different ways. As a person trying to lead a group of unique individuals, I had to be aware of how each person in the firm was reacting and dealing with the situation at hand.

And I think that by doing that it encouraged others to be very supportive of each other, and we ended up with this incredibly supportive environment.

So, one of the lessons learned is, when times are tough you work harder. As long as you did the right thing, you'll come out the other side. And we know we did the right thing.

JB: Do you have a succession plan in place?

WG: We do. Along with my two other partners we are in the process of doing this transition to a corporate RIA.

Once we get that complete we hope to be on a 10-time growth curve in the next five years. We'll go from about 40 advisers to 400 advisers.

We're building a bigger staff. And we're going to have other positions that are less dependent on me and more dependent on the company itself. So, if I walked out, the company would be fine.

JB: Tell me something that might surprise me about Cedar Brook?

WG: We have a big Halloween costume contest every year. People come to work dressed up in crazy costumes. It's a lot of fun, we have a Halloween party and candy and decorations all over the office.

JB: Tell me something that might surprise me about William Glubiak.

WG: I spent the first 12 years of my professional career in the Air Force. I flew B52s and C130s.

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