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Wells Team Picks Snowden Lane for its Global Prowess

By Murray Coleman January 27, 2017

After eight years at Wells Fargo Advisors in San Diego, Calif., advisor David Lautz announced last week he’s moved to Snowden Lane Partners. Joining him at the New York-based indie RIA, which manages $3.1 billion, is ex-WFA advisor Francisco Malfavon. Their team managed about $125 million at the wirehouse.

Q: Did the bank’s recent sales scandal play a part in your decision to move?

A: Due to the pressures the bank put on the licensed bankers I was mentoring to open accounts, it was challenging for me to execute the coaching and mentoring strategies that WFA wanted us to implement. That meant I wasn’t able to capitalize on referral opportunities in the international space. I was embarrassed by the situation but the scandal didn’t really directly impact any of our long-term relationships with clients.

Q: Your primary focus is on international clients, isn’t it?

A: Yes, David and I are both from Mexico. So that’s become our go-to niche market. We focus on Latin American foreign nationals who spend a good amount of time in the San Diego area. This economy is becoming a very popular community for those types of families – they enjoy visiting this part of southern California for both personal and business reasons.

Q: Didn’t a large bank provide a good platform for that type of niche?

A: It did but in a very selective way. Due to recent changes in policies, we weren’t allowed to implement the types of accounts that were being recommended by our foreign clients’ tax attorneys. So that really limited our ability to grow our practice. We weren’t able to help many of our centers of influence to onboard their clients. And that was a big part of our business development efforts – creating professional networks with lawyers and CPAs.

A: When did you start looking at making a move?

Q: Don’t get me wrong – we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Wells Fargo. But on behalf of our clients we felt a need last year to start looking at all of our options. So we considered wealth management programs offered by big players in the international space, including LPL, Morgan Stanley and UBS. After realizing that many of these platforms were very similar in nature to those offered by WFA, we started to lean toward Snowden Lane.

David Lautz

Q: How so?

A: They were formed by ex-Merrill executives who came from that firm’s international group. So the more we talked to them the more we liked their focus and commitment to the foreign space. They’ve got a dedicated platform for advisors who are interested in specializing in international wealth management. We also like Snowden Lane’s culture – it offers us a boutique-like setting but the resources of a much larger organization.

Q: How is this move going to help your clients?

A: We can now onboard our foreign clients with fewer limitations in terms of what types of investments and accounts they’re able to use. We’re also finding less bureaucracy, too, in terms of taking advantage of the most cutting edge platforms and technologies for our clients. A lot of the investment solutions available at Wells Fargo were a little obsolete. For example, we didn’t have the ability to offer our international clients access to institutional share classes in fee-based accounts. At Snowden Lane we’re able to give them access to more favorably-priced share classes and a wider variety of investment options.

Q: Do you plan to expand your team’s reach?

A: Yes, that was one of the appealing parts of the move. In a banking environment it was a different model. It was more a situation of running my own practice – I had less flexibility to choose my own partners and staff. Now, we’ll be able to expand our international team and grow our practice in ways that best meet our clientele’s evolving international needs. But we also think this move will allow us to build a larger referral network. Working at Snowden Lane we don’t face as many travel restrictions. So we’re going to be able to visit a lot more countries. We’re looking forward to getting to know more of our clients on their home turf, which should over time greatly strengthen our long-term relationships with more families.