FA Magazine May 2023 | Page 46


Thomas Kopelman

Co-Founder / AllStreet Wealth / Indianapolis

Back in 2021 , barely three years out of college , Thomas Kopelman was working at an independent , fee-only RIA shop when a co-worker suggested he should go out on his own . “ He basically told me to launch my own firm around my brand ,” recalls the young financial planner , now 27 . “ So I did .”

By September of that year , he and fellow advisor Treyton DeVore had launched AllStreet Wealth , an Indianapolis-based financial planning firm that ’ s specifically tailored to the unmet needs of millennials . “ To work with this audience , we knew the traditional AUM model would not make sense ,” Kopelman explains . “ So we built a firm centered around yearly planning fees , and have a 0.35 % AUM fee for any clients who want us to help manage their assets .”
Roughly 90 % of his clients want advice about what to do with their investments , but they want to execute on their own . By charging a flat planning fee , his firm can “ work with anyone who values our advice and is willing to pay for the partnership ,” says Kopelman .
He acknowledges that most of his clients may not be the wealthiest of customers . But that ’ s OK with him . “ I never wanted to work with retirees ,” he says . “ Honestly , my parents are not even retired , so it was unrelatable to me .”
He relates best to people in their late 20s to early 40s , he says , but another niche he serves is young business owners . “ I get what they ’ re going through and can help a ton ,” he says . “ I ’ m better off sticking to what I know best , being able to go deep , versus being a generalist .”
“ This industry requires nonstop learning ,” he says , noting there are few if any programs for training advisors to work with younger clients . “ We ’ ve had to create our entire process from scratch .”
Even though he ’ s a digital native , Kopelman says technology has its limits .
Artificial intelligence and robo-advisors can ’ t create a plan that is “ unique to each person and what they are going through ,” he says . “ Advice will always be a need .”

Kamila Elliott

CEO and Founder / Collective Wealth Partners / Atlanta

Kamila Elliott says that her family knew she would be working with money when she was a child and she ’ d crinkle bills . A Philadelphia native , she worked a number of jobs in college at Penn State while pondering a law degree , working in retail clothing , at sub shops and banks , later selling university-affiliated credit cards to students .

She eventually worked at Vanguard fielding 401 ( k ) participant calls . But she couldn ’ t own a book of business there without the CFP letters . She got those in 2013 . That allowed her to start working with Vanguard ’ s ultra-wealthy clients , people with north of $ 20 million , and she flew around the country to meet them with estate attorneys and trust and tax specialists .
She had come from a very different background , a single-parent household where her mother was laid off a couple of times from accounting work at insurance companies . Elliott says memories of lean years ( fewer clothes , less heat ) have kept her frugal . She still uses the coupons in her Target app .
She left Vanguard in 2019 . “ After a while , I realized most of my clients were not that diverse ,” she says of the wealthy Vanguard clients . “ I had my CFP . I had my MBA in finance . I had five licenses from Finra . I ’ m not helping anyone who looks like me .”
After a few stints elsewhere , she and Brian McKinney started Collective Wealth Partners in 2022 . “ Our entire firm is Black . Right now we have five [ CFPs ].”
She says the firm works with more than 200 households and the clients are mostly between the ages of 30 and 50 . The clients work mostly in tech or as small business owners . Many are young high earners seeking financial independence . The firm ’ s assets under advisement are north of $ 50 million and under management is $ 25 million .
Her experience helped her rise to heady ranks : Elliott was the chair of the CFP Board in 2022 , one of the youngest chairs ever and the first African-American .
She says she asks her clients what money means to them . Sometimes those with a surplus are dealing with higher expectations , and that requires a different emotional understanding . “ Everybody has a money story ,” she says .