How The Founder Of a Based Wealth Group Creates Confidence In The Turbulent World Of Finance
By Lindsey Blair
Robert Hudson III founder of an investment advisory firm that helps individuals and businesses piece together the various aspects of their financial lives got a taste of the world of finance in high school. Since then, he’s been hooked.
“We had a business class where each student had a phantom $100,000 to invest and [were given] a daily newspaper to see how our stocks were doing,” he remembered. “We were able to pick the stocks we thought would do well, and at the end of the year we saw how our investment grew.”
Hudson knew that the ever changing financial industry was his calling in life, and becoming an investment banker seemed to be the perfect fit professionally. After graduating from Rutgers University, he spent years working in a variety of Wall Street firms, including a Merrill Lynch call center where he answered up to 40 calls every day the best training anyone could have ever had, according to him.
“It taught me about investments and provided interaction with thousands of clients,” Hudson said. “More importantly, it taught me how to understand human emotion to solve investment issues, help clients prepare for retirement, and make sure they were invested properly over the phone.”
Hudson soon became somewhat of a walking investment encyclopedia, able to easily recite the historical performances of major mutual fund companies, who their portfolio managers were, the risks involved, and fees associated with particular investments all from memory. However, he couldn’t ignore the unpleasant feeling that he was restricted in what he could and could not offer clients.
“The focus was mostly on new relationships instead of on the ones that I’d already forged, and that process didn’t work for me,” he said. “The financial crisis [in 2007 08] showed me the need for an independent structure when it came to client finances.”
Hudson soon recognized that the industry was less focused on wealth management (providing advice to clients) an area that he felt passionate about and more on deposits, lending, and merchant services. With this culture severely limiting the relationship that advisors maintained with their clients, and having fewer products and/or only more costly propriety products to offer, Hudson reached the end of his road.
“To me, that [business model] posed a conflict,” he said. “So, I created a firm where I not only offer independent advice to my clients, but also a home for other advisors looking to do the same,” adding that “I felt the need to create a structure which was able to leverage large financial institutions to hold client assets and give them confidence, but not on a platform that told an advisor what to sell.”
Embracing the motto, “Knowledge is Power,” Gladstone Wealth Group was formed in Bedminster an all inclusive firm for investments, tax planning, and estate planning, its disciplines integrated in a cost effective manner.
“We’re able to offer not only a larger choice of products than a [typical] local bank’s investment arm, but also access to financial advisors, allowing us to offer even more products and services to clients,” Hudson explained.
To help further its goals, Gladstone Wealth Group formed an alliance with LPL Financial the largest independent broker dealer (based on total revenue, as reported by Financial Planning magazine), and also retains its own registered investment advisor.
The advisor and client have the ability to choose what’s best to pursue their goals; not just what a bank says is best for them,” Hudson said. “Our advisors embrace a concierge type service model, acting as consultants to their clients.”
Since Gladstone is a smaller, independent firm, it has access to many of the lowest cost mutual fund and exchange traded fund providers in the country.
“Under our roof and through our strategic partnerships, we can help take care of everything financially related, from assets to liabilities to insurance including home and auto as well as creating pensions, all with an independent approach,” Hudson added. “I don’t know of another bank or investment firm that can offer all of that.”
And, unlike many larger firms, the advisors at Gladstone pride themselves on treating clients like family including coordinating with accountants, attorneys, and any other professional an investor might work with.
“We certainly have our own strategic partners who we can bring into these meeting, but we like to work with the ones the client already has a relationship with,” he explained. “Most investment firms simply take a client’s assets and invest, but that is not the case at Gladstone. In this industry, our approach is usually only offered to high net worth individuals; we can offer this to all clients.”
For Hudson and Gladstone, transparency is paramount. Although performance is an important part of investor satisfaction, studies show that trusting an advisor is just as much of a concern. “Transparency is crucial for there to be trust between and investor and an investment professional,” he advised. “If there isn’t enough transparency in a relationship and an unknown arises a fee, fluctuation in an account, or another unexpected occurrence the trust is gone.”
From the amount of new clients and financial advisors who have joined Gladstone, Hudson is assured that the company is doing something right.
“I can see us being a household name in the next decade for everything financially related,” he projected. “My goal is to be the one stop shop for investors, and to continue recruiting some of the industry’s best talent.
Gladstone Wealth Group
1400 US Highway, Route 206 N., Suite 100, Bedminster / 908.719.1313