Carolyn Armitage’s decades of experienceinthebroker-dealer and wealth management fieldhave provided her with many insightsto tap into when helping her clients, butone in particular stands out.
“How CEOs struggle with manag-
ing people in teams,” says the manag-
ing director of the Los Angeles-based
consulting group and investment firm
Echelon Partners. “It’s surprised me at
how consistent that is in very, very large
organizations as well as small firms.”
The Minnesota native began her
career on Wall Street working for First
Investors (now Foresters Financial) in
the late 1980s. The firm was a great
training ground, she explains; plus, “get-
ting to go to Wall Street was a really big
deal, … and I was fearless.”
That position was the first of many
Armitage, CFP, has held in the BD com-
munity. When her spouse transferred to
Dallas, she went along and joined HD
Vest for seven years, which she says
“was such a growing, innovative firm. It
was a great culture.”
She later moved out to California to
take a position with Financial Network,
and then was “tapped to run the advi-
sory for all the broker-dealers that ING
had acquired,” Armitage explains.
“I did quite a bit of consolidationwork, assimilating all the programs, putting RIAs in place where there weren’tany — it was a big role, and I enjoyed it,”she says.
But the role came to a halt during the
financial crisis, and so she took a job with
a smaller firm, Western International
Securities, in Pasadena. Over two years,
the consultant says, she put much infra-
structure in place for the BD’s estate plan-
ning, advisory services, strategic partner
programs and educational programs.
From there, she joined LPL Financial,where she saw a “terrific way to use allof my experience … to help these CEOsthroughout the country improve theirorganizations,” Armitage explains.
“Because I had such a worldview ofwhat advisors, branch managers andhome offices went through, I knewwhere the trouble spots were and theconflicts these CEOs run into on a day-to-day basis,” she adds.
When this program at LPL ended, shedid some independent consulting andbecame part of Echelon in 2017.
This career roadmap means Armitagecan tap into “all of the skills, all ofthe learning that I’ve had throughoutmy career and give back to help CEOsimprove their organizations.”
Investment Advisor: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen in your career?Smaller and larger firms can have manyof the same issues. About 50% of revenue is often attributed to compensation expense, so it’s a big expensecategory. But it’s challenging managingthe human capital side of the business,which is a major variable. That partis the wild card, and yet it’s the mostimportant element — and I’ve seen it as astruggle for almost every CEO out there.
What key advice do you provide?
It depends where they are in their stageof development.
One of the big kind of “aha” momentsfor people when they hire a consultant isthey finally realize that they can attenda conference and get great practice management tips. But if it’s not applicable towhere they are in their development, it’snot going to work.
We help CEOs see their blind spots,and we provide unbiased perspectiveson their organization and skill sets.Sometimes they just need someone tobe honest and have a critical conversation about what’s going on in theirorganization so they can break throughto the next level.
Where do you think women can
I’ve actually found that women arebetter and more easily adapted to thefee-based side of the business than thecommission-based side. The sales environment is traditionally male oriented.
Women are terrific networkers and
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Thanks to time spent at LPL and other firms, Echelon Partners’
Carolyn Armitage can take leaders to the next level.