February 25, 2022
One of our core values is, “We strive to get better all the time.” This is simply part of our nature. As professionals, we exhibit a productive skepticism and possess an instinct to identify weak links and strengthen them. One of the ways we strengthen the organization is through folding in other firms that share our values and enhance our team by adding new talent, service offerings and specialists, and creating additional scale we can leverage to lower the cost of financial products for our clients.
At a time when over 90% of independent wealth management firms our size have decided to take on private equity investors — to get bigger, then sell a few years later to a new investor for a profit — we have chosen a different path. It’s one we believe better aligns with what our clients want: for us to stay employee-owned and continue to focus on the long-term service needs of their family.
Today, Aspiriant is one of the nation’s only employee-owned wealth management firms with meaningful scale, managing $15 billion in assets. And while our measured approach to growing our team requires more patience than the alternative, we believe maintaining that alignment of interest with our clients is paramount to everything else. This is precisely why we choose to be methodical in our approach and grow in digestible increments.
This is also why we are so thrilled to have recently joined forces with two exceptional, like-minded firms: HearthStone Private Wealth Management of San Diego and Murray, Stok & Company, a boutique tax service firm in San Francisco.
HearthStone became part of the Aspiriant family on December 1. The team advises 150 affluent clients with approximately $350 million in assets. With HearthStone, we not only expand our presence in the San Diego region, we also gain the expertise to serve professional fiduciaries that manage family trusts and estates.
Murray, Stok joined Aspiriant on January 15. The 30-year-old firm with 17 employees is not new to us. We’ve been partnering with them for over a decade in serving mutual clients with their tax needs. Murray, Stok’s deep bench of tax talent triples the size of our Tax Services Group and strengthens our Exclusive Family Office services.
“Adding Aspiriant’s all-encompassing wealth management and strategic planning services to our tax compliance and planning offerings will ensure that we meet our clients’ needs well into the future!” – Chris Murray
Not all companies looking to sell or searching for a succession strategy are the right fit for us. For starters, they need to be committed to employee ownership and preserving the strong alignment of interests we have enjoyed with clients for decades. A company that partners with private equity investors can’t guarantee long-term private ownership or personalized services for long. That means their clients can’t feel certain that they will always receive the same attention they are used to. Essentially, these firms are selling their client relationships and introducing a third-party financial investor. From our perspective, this creates a conflict of interest, especially when these transactions are occurring at elevated valuations where the margin of error is razor thin.
In contrast, the principals of HearthStone and Murray, Stok are laser-focused on what’s in the best interest for clients. They share our values and support our employee-owned business model that aligns with client needs. They were looking for a succession plan that didn’t compromise their values and that leverages the scale we’ve built to enhance service to their clients.
HearthStone CEO Paul Hynes, now a partner and director in wealth management at Aspiriant, wasn’t just looking for a big payout when the company started searching for a strategic partner.
“We feel strongly that independent ownership is synonymous with putting the needs of clients and employees first. Because of our mutual unwavering dedication to our clients and employees, it became clear that Aspiriant was the best choice for us,” Paul said.
“We feel strongly that independent ownership is synonymous with putting the needs of clients and employees first.” – Paul Hynes
Murray, Stok’s managing partner Chris Murray, who is now a partner and practice leader at Aspiriant, said, “Adding Aspiriant’s all-encompassing wealth management and strategic planning services to our tax compliance and planning offerings will ensure that we meet our clients’ needs well into the future!” Mike Stok is also a partner and director of tax services at Aspiriant.
Our objective to expand our firm is not to get bigger and grow revenue. Rather, we are striving to get better on dimensions of bringing together distinct talent, new services and additional scale to reduce product costs for clients. We have accomplished this mission with these two mergers in spades and are honored to welcome HearthStone and Murray, Stok clients to Aspiriant.
We want to take this opportunity to thank the existing clients of Aspiriant for their partnership as we built out our talent base, services, scale and technology. We have come a long way since our founding in 2008, and we could not have done it without their support. We look forward to having the talent and expertise from our combined firms benefit all clients who now fall under the Aspiriant set of ideals.
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