Seven Questions with Tony Sirianni: Wedbush’s Chris Mone
Why did you get into the wealth management business?
My father worked for a law firm his entire career serving individuals and firms in the financial services business in New York. Like a typical kid, I asked a lot of questions and learned as much as I could about the business. I opened an account at Paine Webber with my caddying money at 16 and started writing calls on Revlon stock. At an early age I saw this business as a way to help people realize their dreams, and I was hooked. I believe that we are all accountable for what we do with our lives and that this is business where you can truly help people and make a difference in their lives.
In looking at the changes over the last 15 years, which, in your opinion, have been the most damaging to the wealth management business? Conversely, what have been the most exciting and positive?
The one constant in this business is change, and you have to be willing to adapt, grow and prepare for the change that is always around the next corner. One phrase I repeat often is that if you have worked in this business over the past 15 years, you have 30 years of industry experience! The most exciting and positive changes in our industry have been greater transparency, open architecture, and broader access to products and services to a greater demographic of clients. At Wedbush we believe that this business has and always will be a relationship business built on trust and competency. Our Financial Advisors focus on strengthening client relationships, improving the client experience and making a difference in the communities we serve.
Personally, I believe the most damaging change over the past 15 years has been a lack of investment in training and developing the next generation of financial advisors. At Wedbush, we are investing in our people and building an adaptable curriculum for “Rising Star” Financial Advisors who will serve our clients for the next 15 years and beyond.
How has technology advanced this industry?
Technology has introduced a massive shift in how we serve our clients. At Wedbush, we have embraced this change and we are continuously improving by investing in new and innovative solutions we can bring to our financial advisors and clients. For the past 64 years we have embraced new technology and grown into one of the largest independent employee owned firms in the country. Going forward, the most successful firms will be unconstrained by legacy systems, listen to the feedback from advisors and clients and invest in the technology that allows them to excel and grow.
How has your company adapted to address the rapidly changing wealth management landscape?
Internally, we think of our firm as a “64 year-old Start-up” and whether we are making a strategic investment in a complementary or synergistic business or acquiring a smaller firm, we are extremely agile in our decision making process. Firms cannot afford to be constrained by endless committee meetings, bureaucracy or consensus decisions. The most successful firms will see the change early, adapt swiftly and evolve as the change unfolds.
What part of the advisor business will never change?
We are in the advice business, and however that advice is augmented, offered, delivered or priced, the role of a trusted advisor will never change. As I said earlier, solid client relationships are built on trust and competency and the value a trusted advisor brings to a client will never change.
What three things differentiate your company from the competition?
We have a very broad view of our competition and hold ourselves to a high standard of earning the trust of our colleagues and clients every day. That said, there are three things that set us apart:
First, we are an employee owned private company started 64 years ago when our founder was a college student who invested his life savings of $5,000 into Wedbush Securities. With no “Big bank” owner or Private Equity investor looking for an exit, we control our own destiny, we remain entrepreneurial and are the antidote to “Big Bureaucracy”
Second we have no debt and an extremely strong balance sheet. Our growth has come purely from retained earnings and we are extremely profitable. This competitive advantage allows us to remain independent and make strategic investments in our growth.
Third, everyone here knows each other. We are an extremely flat and collaborative organization and communication is open at all levels of the firm. We have no patience for politics and operate with extreme transparency to make the best decisions for our colleagues and clients.
What advice would you give to someone just entering the business?
Don’t listen to the chorus of people telling you that the business has changed and they would never be successful if they started today. Find a mentor who will share their wisdom and learn everything you can from them. Be patient and find a way to add value to your mentor’s practice by obtaining your CFP or other designation and providing additional services to her client base. Finally, no matter how many failures you experience or obstacles thrown in your path, never ever give up!
What are your interests and hobbies outside of your day job?
Outside of my day job, I enjoy time with my family. Life is rewarding when you get to spend your time doing the things you love with the people you love.
Christopher Mone is an Executive Vice President of Wedbush Securities. He serves as the head of the Wealth Management Division, member of the Presidents’ Executive Committee and the Management Committee of the firm. Wedbush Securities is one of the largest securities firms and investment banks with headquarters on the West Coast. Founded in 1955 and built on a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, Wedbush remains an independent, family and employee owned fully diversified self-clearing financial services firm and true American success story. With over 25 years of experience in various leadership roles in the financial services industry, Chris joined the leadership team at Wedbush in 2019 to embark on a new chapter of growth.
In his role, Chris has overall leadership responsibility for the firm’s national network of Private Wealth Management branch offices, the Independent Franchise Owners network, the Asset Management and the Registered Investment Advisor divisions of the firm. Chris Lives in Southern California with his wife and four children is an active member of St. John Fisher Parish and several youth education organizations.
Chris is a panelist at AdvisorHub’s November 19th Industry in Transition Summit in NYC — Learn more.