Laura LaTourette (she/her/hers) takes a unique view about how she approaches running her Georgia-based RIA, Family Wealth Management Group. From an entrepreneurship lens, LaTourette works to differentiate her brand within a crowded market, which can make all the difference when setting out to create a long-lasting, thriving private wealth practice.
She has created a client niche, targeting mostly clients in the LGBTQ community, to serve a group that she believes is underrepresented and that can benefit from financial guidance and coaching.
Kristen Oliveri, Head of Private Wealth Content for Markets Group, sits down with LaTourette to discuss such nuances as well as diversity, hiring an all-female multigenerational staff, and how she approaches succession planning for the next generation.
Markets Group: Let’s start our conversation off with your background and how you came into the wealth management business.
Laura LaTourette: I've been in the business almost 30 years. And as a young woman, I decided that I needed to get a divorce. I know that sounds awful, but I did. I wanted to live an authentic self and came out as a lesbian. I decided that I then had to understand more about investments and retirement and all the financial things there are in the world. My former husband did a lot of that for our family, and I was coming into a new world knowing that I was going to be on my own for a period of time, raising children and had to understand a lot more about it.
And so I did. I came into the world and then I also became a certified financial planner. Being a CFP, I found the curriculum I needed to help me get into this business and find my way.
MG: I know that your practice is often centered around the LGBTQ community. How did you begin that process of building that out for your own practice?
LL: Being in the community myself, it wasn't hard to find clients. I always felt like it was important to develop a practice around who I am as a person so I could be fully authentic. I could be fully engaged with clients and have conversations. I started adding clients to my practice, told them who I was, and they told me who they were. If they're not LGBTQ, then they have someone in their family, so they're allies, they're advocates. I just did it in a natural way. I'm a scrappy entrepreneur, so I have entrepreneurs as well, LGBTQ people and strong women [as clients].
MG: Tell me about how you organize your internal team and approach recruiting, and how, if at all, the pandemic has impacted that process?
LL: I had a group under me prior to the pandemic in 2014 and then I became a grandma. So, I thought I don't want to be an OSJ (Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction) for a broker dealer anymore, I wanted to do this on my own. It was time for me to grow again as a practice, but also put in place succession planning. How was I going to exit this business? I love what I do, but as you get older, you want to do something else a lot of times.
I decided to look around for people like me. We had already started building out a remote operation, so when the pandemic hit, we were already in place remotely. We had a paperless office and my clients were used to meeting me, not necessarily on Zoom, but on phone calls. And my clients are all over the country or I would go visit or they would come here. So, it wasn't hard for us to transition.
When the pandemic hit, I got on social media quite a bit. I had people come into my life who were LGBTQ and said: ‘How do I do what you're doing?’ I said, ‘Well, this is who I am. This is what I'm doing.’
So, I'm actually growing out more of a remote practice now. We just added our first rep and she's in Arizona. We are doing the same thing I've always done, we're just doing it on a remote basis and it is working out so well.
MG: Do you have any examples of how you've tried to keep your team engaged or anything that's really worked well for you in the remote environment?
LL: We meet on Zoom or our IP phone system … or on Teams. We have three different types of video chat that we can do. We do video chat at least once or twice a week. My operations team has their own meetings. I come in with overall meetings on our compliance or whatever I'm working on.
Of course, [clients] are used to reaching us via email, also through texting because we have a business texting app, so we're able to really communicate on all platforms. It has not been hard for us because I'm also flexible with my team.
Some of my team works part time because they have toddlers at home. They give us their schedule at the beginning of the week prior and they say OK next week this is when I'm going to be available, and then we schedule team appointments. In between then, they know what they have to get done during the week. I mean, working moms are the best employees ever. We have not had a problem with any of that, in fact, we've grown. It's been an exciting time.
MG: So many working women – and working moms in particular – have left the workforce during the pandemic. So, I really appreciate that you are supporting the working woman and letting them know that there's a place for them to excel and grow.
LL: I'm a working grandma, so I don't have little ones at home, but then I've got working moms who are married. I've got a working single mom and I also have a working mom whose kids are in college. So, we have multiple generations, and that was the other thing I did intentionally. I have people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and I'm in my 60s. There's so much we bring in with diversity like different ideas and how we do things and just all the things that make you a strong company.
I don't know all things or even know how to do them, but if I bring in other people from different areas, we have created a wonderful tapestry. We get things done because we all have really good skills and we are all educated and we are all good at what we do. We're accountable – moms are accountable and moms can do more than one thing at a time.
MG: As for succession planning, tell me your approach to that. You're obviously an entrepreneur. It's your own business and I think one of the largest trends going on in the RIA/ multi-family office space right now is: what do we do about succession planning?
LL: What I'm doing is looking for reps that again fit in my culture. They like who I am, what I'm doing. We are focusing on LGBTQ. We're focusing on how to build out financial coaching that is before the investment part, some things that might be newer to financial services. I'm saying let's build it out now. I'm finding people who fit my culture.
The other thing is I'm finding people who have been in the industry for a while and want a change, want entrepreneurship, want to learn how to build a practice because they've been maybe in a captive situation and haven't been able to fully develop their own ideas or come out in the community. The third thing I'm doing is aligning myself with other practitioners that need a support team and need someone to help guide them. I have built out my processes and we know what the prospective client’s process is. We know what the planning process is, what the AUM process is. What I’ve realized is that not a lot of reps have done that. They haven't sat down and put together a real structured process. I'm teaching my process right to the new reps and we are together on the business to begin with.
I'm looking at the first three years that I bring them on, and by then they should be able to be launched on their own. I don't have small clients or throw-away clients or something to give them. I really want to develop who they are and what they want to do and join with them in that development for the first few years with a salary and in business with me, so that they have a stronger foundation to starting off their practices.
MG: This ties in nicely to the concept of mentorship. There's been lots of talk that the concept of mentorship has been thrown out the window in a remote environment. But I think what you're proving is that's not true at all. Mentors help us develop our careers. How do you view mentorship? And can you share a lesson learned or a best practice in terms of mentoring?
LL: I've always been a mentor in some informal relationships. I'm on the CFP board mentor program and I've been in other women's organizations where I've agreed to be a mentor. I was a mentee when I was younger and asked for help in different areas.
I think one of the things to do as a mentor is really ask that person that you're mentoring: what do they need from you? Because different people need different things. You shouldn't have just this set agenda that you teach.
And there will be different areas that on a personal level as well as professional basis where you'll be able to mentor. I think that's really important to understand what do they need, [and then] what do they need from you? Sometimes it's just validation. They think that they should do something this way or they don't quite have the self-confidence. But, if they talk to someone who's got confidence in that area, they can step up to the plate and really do what they want to do. I see that a lot of it is just building that personal self-awareness, building confidence, and then for the educational part is how do we do that process? How do we actually bring business in, keep business and then serve business?
You've got that personal aspect of people, but you've also have to make sure you're a profitable business. So, I kind of blend them. We have phone calls, we do have video chats, we have formal meetings, we have informal meetings. I'm not available 24/7 because I'm good with my boundaries and help teach them that as well. If they're working on a Saturday, as long as they haven't worked 80 hours a week, that's OK. But if they have worked 80 hours a week and they have no time with their family, I have a talk with them about that.
I think that’s what mentoring is about. How can I inspire this person to be who they are and get to know who they are as a person and really come to the world with what they want to do.
MG: Any final thoughts that you would like to mention today?
LL: I think if anything I could tell my fellow advisors would be to trust the future. This younger generation, they are so strong. They're so smart. They're so capable. Not just of doing your social media marketing or something, or just talking to their generation, but I think that they're really vibrant. And I am so excited for our future because the diversity that is coming into our financial services industry or financial planning profession is really strong and they're working together. They're networking a lot and I see our future is bright because of the talent that's coming in.
I would say, embrace the future, figure out how you're going to do with your succession. I wouldn't wait.
Don't be afraid of the future. It's a bright, strong, shiny future.
Laura will be speaking at Markets Group’s 6th Annual Private Wealth Midwest Forum in Chicago on August 14 on the Future of Wealth Management. To register for the event, please click HERE.