EP Wealth’s earliest beginnings started at a frozen yogurt shop in San Diego, when Derek Holman and Brian Parker served behind the counter together. The two had been best friends since 6th grade and after the days working at the froyo shop in high school, they went to colleges near each other, majored in economics and business administration, and landed jobs in the financial industry—Derek at Paine Webber and Brian for SEIA.
They were living together in Manhattan Beach, with good jobs—but they shared a mutual dissatisfaction with the industry, which put profits before people and that eroded the quality of financial advice that people received.
In 1999, Brian and Derek started Premier Financial Management, a precursor to EP Wealth Advisors. As Derek explained in an October, 2016 interview with Financial Advisor Magazine, “What really led us to start was the Wall Street model, which didn’t seem to work. We just wanted to offer advice that was conflict-free.”
With the advantages of their independent, fiduciary model, Brian and Derek started to attract client by client with their transparent structure and personalized approach.
In Financial Advisor’s interview, Brian described the novel benefit their client-first business philosophy offered. “It seems pretty simple, but everyone we would meet had no idea what their return was and what they were paying. And the question to them was always, ‘Isn’t that something you should know?’”
In 2004, Brian and Derek had hired employee #1, Sherryl Ray, and they were looking to take a big next step. At the same time, a pioneering financial advisor Stephanie Enright, CFP® was looking for a company that would take care of her clients and allow her to retire. That’s when she found Brian and Derek. They founded a partnership that not only brought her client base but also included Investment Director Kevin Ashworth. They combined the Enright and Premier brands, which resulted in a new name for the organization: Enright Premier Wealth Advisors. Now known as EP Wealth Advisors.
But the financial advice industry was still stuck on commission driven business and Derek and Brian saw that fee-only was the wave of the future because it put the clients first.
Brian and Derek were committed to helping clients, which inspired a trio of three other advisors to join EP Wealth: Ryan Serrecchia, Clint Camua, and Mike McGrath. EP Wealth added to their offering with Senior Portfolio Manager Cris Moran starting the first iteration of the Financial Planning department, right smack in the middle of the Great Recession, before it eventually was helmed by Erin Voisin in 2016.
As business decisions became more complex, Brian and Derek wanted to remain focused on clients. So in 2011, Derek and Brian invited Patrick Goshtigian, a CFA® who at the time was running Nuveen’s global operations, to join them as a partner and serve as EP Wealth’s president. A Southern Californian himself, Patrick valued the firm’s dedication to clients and opportunity to join the fiduciary side of the financial advice industry. He also had insight into the personal influences that shaped EP Wealth’s culture. “Our kids went to kindergarten together,” Brian explained in his conversation with Financial Advisor.
With the help of many EP Wealthers, Brian and Derek had helped create a platform to deliver their clients personalized financial advice. EP Wealth added investment options, investor education events, and built out a financial planning department. And what they found was that there was another gap in the market: like-minded advisors who wanted better resources to deliver personalized financial advice, as well as a way to retire and keep their clients in good hands.
This led to many smaller financial advisory firms joining EP Wealth Advisors and leveraging EP’s resources to improve their service to their clients.
As EP Wealth Advisors grew, it afforded the ability to reinvest in expanded resources that would further benefit their clients, which includes new tax preparation as well as partnerships with the law firms to provide estate plan document preparation.
This addition of service creates a huge separation from the majority of the financial advice industry.
“We’re always going to focus on how we can create the most trusted relationships with clients, supported by our services, technologies, and amazing team members, “ Derek says. “And we know we’ll add resources as we get bigger.”
“Because no matter how big we get,” Brian says. “We know it’s about helping one person at a time.”