This year, we promoted William Sweet to Chief Financial Officer at RWM. It could be the smartest decision we will make in 2018 – despite the new year being only 2 weeks old. You may know of Bill from his Twitter feed or the posts he has written about taxes and financial planning.
Since he joined the firm about two years ago, he has been instrumental in helping the firm – and me in particular – get our administrative and financial house in order. These are areas we lacked expertise in, so we outsourced the heavy lifting to the professionals.
Having someone in-house makes a world of difference.
When we launched the firm – hard to believe it was almost 5 years ago — the four of us set forth on a journey into places unknown. We understood how to manage assets for clients. By design, our business model did not have us selling, but rather had potential clients reach out to us. We were extremely fortunate that what many start-up firms struggled with was our bread and butter.
Running a company, however, was another matter entirely. We had a crash course in the nuts and bolts of managing a fast-growing start up:
• Payroll: Wait, we have to set up a payroll, a 401k plan (with a match), manage healthcare options, deal with disability insurance? Complex issues, spoken in a foreign language. That was before we even get to designing the firm’s compensation structure.
• Taxes & Accounting: Save the receipts, pay your taxes on time, how hard can this be? Answer: Very. There are lots of important decisions to be made from highly complex choices, all of which were consequential.
• Equity: We wanted to be an employee owned firm – how hard is that? Issue some ESOP stock, everybody is happy! Turns out creating a path for employees to become owners is a complex beast that took us 18 months to wrestle into submission.
• Office Space: Commercial Real Estate in New York City is a very strange animal. Direct deals, sublets, phantom space, it is much more complex than renting an apartment (which is how I naively looked at it at); around the rest of the country it is somewhat easier, but still complex.
On all of these issues, it is safe to say that it was only a matter of time before we were going to be in over our heads.
When we hired Bill as an investment advisor, we knew we were getting not only a CFP but also a tax expert who would be of great assistance to clients. I don’t recall any of us believing that Bill would eventually become so indispensable to the partners (and me especially) for his tax insights and accounting acumen.
RWM is now almost 5 years old, and all of these bulleted points – and many, many more1 – have not only been resolved, but they have been well-handled in a professional manner that works to the firm’s great benefit. Our employees, our clients, our partners all benefit from the firm being a tightly run, well managed operation. The credit for that, as well as preventing those issues that potentially could slip through the cracks, goes to Bill.
Today we are at our annual partners’ offsite, discussing our long term strategic plans to help keep the firm on its path. So many of the documents and ideas we will be discussing have Bill’s fingerprints’ all over them.
We often get asked how a firm our size – we are still relatively small – manages to accomplish so much with such military precision. Our not-so-secret answer is the armed forces veterans we hire. Last year, we promoted Navy veteran Patrick Haley to be our Chief Technology Officer. This year, we are proud to promote retired Army Captain William Sweet to Chief Financial Officer (the only drawback is deciding who to root for in Army/Navy games).
Congratulations, Bill – this is a promotion well deserved.
To talk to us about how we work with clients, or to discuss a career at RWM, you can reach us here: Ritholtz Wealth Management
1. That is before we discuss compliance, trading, legal, portfolio rebalancing, administrative, policies and procedures, vendor management, record keeping, tax loss harvesting, technology, capital deployment, software, furniture purchases, recruitment, tele-communications, purchasing, communication with clients – the list goes on and on.