RIA with $15 billion in AUM appoints first female president

Wendy Hartman also joins the board of Buckingham Strategic Wealth, a firm that already has women in 40% of client-facing roles

Jun 10, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

Wendy Hartman has become the latest example of women making inroads into the C-suites of the financial services industry with her promotion to president of Buckingham Strategic Wealth, an RIA with $15 billion in assets.

Ms. Hartman, 44, stepped into the president's role on June 1, becoming the first female president of the 25-year-old St. Louis-based registered investment adviser.

Buckingham has 150 advisers located in 33 offices in 19 states. Ms. Hartman said 40% of the RIA's client-facing employees are women.

Buckingham, which is partially owned by roll-up firm Focus Financial Partners, has acquired five women-led RIAs over the past two years.

"I think other female financial advisers find great value in a firm that values diversity," said Ms. Hartman, who also became a member of the board of directors at Buckingham.

Ms. Hartman, a St. Louis native who joined Buckingham in 2010 as a wealth adviser, moved up through the ranks from working with clients to managing teams of advisers. Immediately prior to becoming company president, she was a managing director responsible for the firm's client services team and the client development department.

Ms. Hartman replaces David Levin, who had been both president and chief operating officer of the broader Buckingham Family of Financial Services.

"The talent, energy, vision and experience that Wendy brings to this role are an exceptional fit for Buckingham," said Mr. Levin, who retains the COO role.

Buckingham Strategic Wealth was ranked as the 17th largest fee-only RIA last year by InvestmentNews' research. And the significance of a female president was not lost on industry representatives, who said even more could be done to bring women and minorities into the industry.

"I think that is great, and the industry still has a long way to go," said Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners.

"Most large organizations like Buckingham have a few women," she added. "I'll feel we've arrived when half of all leadership roles are filled by women and people of color are in leadership positions that at least reflect their numbers in the larger population."

"There is a significant shortage of women in asset management in general and in senior roles in particular," said Meredith Jones, blogger and author of 'Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (and How You Can Too), (2015, Palgrave Mcmillan).

"At present, only about 35% of registered investment advisers are women, along with 23% of CFPs and 18% of CFAs," Ms. Jones added. "Without strong female role models, mentors and sponsors at the senior level, I worry that the almost glacial pace of change will remain the status quo."

Tina Powell, chief executive of C-Suite Social Media, acknowledged the value of having another woman represented in a senior position in financial services, but said the promotion itself should not be related to gender.

"What defines a great leader should not be based on gender, race, or sexual orientation, but rather emotional intelligence, their relationships within an organization to the people and culture, the ability to shape a strategic vision and navigate change," she said. "With that said, organizations and high-performing teams achieve greatness when there is people alignment. In this case, Wendy Hartman, through her tenure, hard work, dedication, and depth of her experience at Buckingham, is exactly the right fit, who also happens to be a woman."

Ms. Hartman, who worked as an equity analyst at Bank of America prior to joining Buckingham, was hired as part of a succession-plan transition for co-founder Bert Schweizer.

"His mentorship, when I worked with him, aided me a lot in terms of developing leadership skills," Ms. Hartman said.

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