Nicholas Delgadoage 35

Chief wealth officer, Dignitas

I am a Leader

40 Under 40
40 Under 40

I am a Leader

40 Under 40

I am a Trailblazer

Trail Blazers

I am an Entrepreneur

40 Under 40

I am a Visionary

40 Under 40

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40

Meet the Leaders

Whether in their own firms or in their communities, these young people are leading the charge toward innovation in financial planning, bringing new opportunities to advisers and clients alike. Here, they share the best leadership advice they’ve received in their careers.

Meet the Trailblazers

This group doesn’t subscribe to groupthink. They are spearheading new ways of practicing and delivering financial advice — in some cases reaching populations previously considered unprofitable to serve. We ask them about the most unique and unusual ideas they’ve had.

Meet the Entrepreneurs

In addition to helping clients reach their financial goals, some in the advice industry face the challenge of running a business or a team. Others have started companies to support this pursuit. These young people are flourishing amid the balancing act — and some got an early start.

Meet the Visionaries

It’s not about what is, but what will be — and what can be — the future of the financial planning industry for this group of forward-looking advisers, educators and executives. Their insights pull the rest of the profession into the next stratum.

Meet the Idealists

Life experiences shape our ideals, especially for these young professionals who see challenges in the advice industry and the world — and set out to meet them. They also have words of wisdom for the next generation.

About Nicholas

After eight years with wirehouse firms, Nicholas Delgado wanted to build a different type of financial planning firm — and in the crisis and aftermath of 2008, he got his chance.

"With the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill's acquisition by Bank of America, I saw an opportunity to provide something different to the marketplace," he said.

Mr. Delgado founded Dignitas in 2009 after leaving Merrill Lynch with about $85 million in client assets and no support staff. His goal was to create a holistic planning practice with concierge services for what he calls "high trajectory" clients — those who have substantial wealth but may not qualify for the ultra-wealthy family office practices that cater to clients with $50 million or more in investible assets.

"What we committed to doing based on that insight [from clients] was to democratize the family office," he said.

To that end, Mr. Delgado devised an innovative compensation plan more tailored to the planning work he wanted to do. He charged according to a fee-based relationship that focused on the family's net worth rather than assets under management. High-net-worth clients pay 1% of their adjusted gross income and 50 basis points of their net worth minus any real estate or company assets.

In return, the team of two advisers and three associates at Dignitas go beyond the balance sheet. For example, they may customize programs to educate clients' children about their family's wealth, find investors for a family business or build next-generation succession plans for an established company.

From the days of $85 million in assets under management, Dignitas has grown to around 40 families with around $350 million in net worth.

— Mason Braswell

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Fast Facts

  • Works 60 hours per week
  • Guilty pleasure: maple glazed bacon long john donuts
  • Has acted as a live auctioneer for seven charity events

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