"I know it's rare, but I can truly say I'm working at the last place I'll ever work," said Adam Birenbaum, chief executive of Buckingham Asset Management and BAM Advisor Services.
Promoted to the top spot four years ago, Mr. Birenbaum got his first taste of the firm via an internship when he was a student at St. Louis University School of Law.
"I always thought law would be a fabulous background degree, because it gives you a different way of looking at risk," he said. "The law degree has helped me in business, but I've always been attracted to the investment management industry."
As Mr. Birenbaum discusses wealth management, it becomes clear he appreciates the broadest possible context.
While the boss doesn't expect all of Buckingham's 178 employees to maintain his pace of 80-hour work weeks, he does expect a "hard 40."
"There are lots of lifestyle firms out there, but this is not one of them, because we're really trying to grow a business," Mr. Birenbaum said. "Under 40 hours does not happen here, and I don't think those kinds of lifestyle firms are healthy for clients or for the industry."
Buckingham's succession-planning strategy, which he helped design, has brought on 14 advisory firms over the past three and a half years, pushing total assets under advisement and management to $24 billion.
"From my vantage point, there's a world to change out there," Mr. Birenbaum said. "We believe some firms will emerge to compete with the wirehouses; why not us?"
— Jeff Benjamin
Head of retirement research, Morningstar