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FA Breaks from PNC to Go Indie

By Murray Coleman January 5, 2017

After nearly five years at PNC Wealth Management, advisor Matthew Pietzak announced Wednesday that he’s left to start his own independent RIA, Vantage Private Wealth. The Naples, Fla.-based solo practitioner oversaw more than $300 million at the bank. Besides working at PNC, Pietzak also has more than a dozen years of experience at Bank of America and a predecessor firm that’s now part of UBS.

Q: Why did you decide to leave PNC?

A: About a year ago our wealth management group was restructured and my responsibilities were split into two roles — relationship strategist and client advisor. So my job transitioned into more of a focus on the tasks of opening and developing new accounts. I found that more of my time was being spent on administrative chores. And that’s just not where my passion really lies – the part of being an advisor that I really enjoy is working directly with people.

Q: Did you consider going to another bank or IBD as an employee?

A: Yes, I looked at every possible alternative. But I decided it was best in my situation to start from scratch. The more I looked at how other firms were set up, the more I became aware of the need to create a practice that was uniquely aligned with the type of clients I serve. So I decided to go fully independent about three months ago.

Q: Who are your main clients?

A: Working in southwest Florida, I serve a lot of retired business owners. Each has gone through some sort of major liquidity event. So they want to work with someone they can trust to help protect their legacies. That means my responsibilities are heavily oriented towards creating appropriate cash flow streams that will never dissipate for their families. I work a lot with preserving wealth and rather complex areas of estate and investment planning.

Q: Was being able to select your own technology platforms a big part of your decision?

A: Yes, one of the biggest advantages I find of being an independent is that my new firm has been able to select software that lets us customize portfolios in a more detailed and individualized fashion. Before, I felt like we had to take more of a boilerplate approach to implementing technologies. I’ve decided to use the Black Diamond package by Advent for client reporting tasks. We’re also using Junxure’s CRM suite. Both are very intuitive to use and very competitively priced.

Matthew Pietzak

Q: As someone with 17 years working as an employee of big banks, was it difficult to break away and start your own firm?

A: Yes, it was a very daunting task. I realized early in the process that to do it correctly we needed some outside support. So I hired TruClarity Management Solutions, an independent consultancy expert at transitioning advisors into a new business.

Q: What has been the hardest part of the move?

A: PNC isn’t a participant in the industry protocol. But I do have a 12-month non-solicitation agreement, which is very typical in the private-banking world. In effect, it means I’m not allowed to proactively solicit my former clients for an extended period. Working with TruClarity, I’ve been able to develop a different marketing and long-term growth plan for this new business. So it’s kind of like starting from scratch but with a sharper focus on how I want to build a practice.

Q: You’re a sole practitioner now, aren’t you?

A: Yes, but as an independent I now have the freedom to create an organization of like-minded individuals. Part of my long-term growth plan does include bringing other advisors on board. But right now we’re concentrating on organic growth and building out our office space.