Twelve years ago, Michael Dubis was one of the first to bring a fee-only practice to Madison, Wis., and now he considers it his mandate to redefine the practice of wealth management.
"I think wealth management is hijacked," Mr. Dubis said. "We practice wealth management, but I don't want to be tied to how people have abused the term."
Firms still market themselves as wealth managers when they actually focus on finances, he said. In contrast, he based his business on a quote he read early in his career from Harold Evensky, author and co-founder of Evensky & Katz Wealth Management. The quote, hanging framed in Mr. Dubis' office, reads, "It's not just your finances we're planning, it's the quality of the rest of your life."
For Mr. Dubis, that means keeping his practice small, confining it to clients whose lives he wants to help plan financially and be involved with in other ways, such as fishing or golf.
"I've reserved all clients to referrals only, or if they have exciting and interesting things going on," he said. "I don't just want to add people for the sake of growth."
Mr. Dubis also declines to benchmark according to industry standards and does not like to refer to his practice by assets under management.
"I personally don't like to advertise it, because it's not my money," he said.
Perhaps his most notable quality, however, is that Mr. Dubis doesn't think everyone else has to do things his way. He has been outspoken about the fiduciary standard and other issues in national publications and as a leader of the Wisconsin Financial Planning Association.
"From my perspective, disclosure in a pragmatic format would be something more important than mandating that brokers have to be fiduciaries," he said. "Then there's no confusion ó rather than spending time regulating people for something they're not."
ó Mason Braswell
Financial adviser, Twelve Points Wealth Management