Firm merges, achieves elite level status
Financial and wealth management specialists Enid A. Oliver and Richard A. Wickes were neighbors for 15 years in South Reno.
Oliver and Wickes also were associated individually with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a Minneapolis-based financial services company.
Now they’ve merged practices to form Oliver, Wickes & Associates private wealth advisory practice, located at 500 Damonte Ranch Parkway.
The pair have known each other since 1992 when Wickes first got into the financial planning industry, and the two had pondered joining forces on a few occasions. Oliver has also worked in the industry since 1988.
“We have discussed various business options over the last several years in particular and last year we got together and decided merging our businesses was a pretty good idea at this point in time,” Wickes said.
The firm will still be part of Ameriprise, but will have more freedom marketing its own brand. Oliver added that the merger gives them a stronger local presence that should set itself apart from other Ameriprise affiliates.
“It’s about our team and giving us a stronger personal recognition that we are legally able to use as a private practice. It allows us to stand out in the individual community and to advertise our years of experience rather than just Ameriprise.”
“It’s more about us than Ameriprise in general,” Wickes added.
The firm will have full access to Ameriprise’s resources and it will continue to monitor its level of service, judged by customer satisfaction surveys conducted by the parent company.
Wickes also indicated there are distinct advantages to now being a private firm and still an affiliate to Ameriprise, including more flexibility and prioritization working with Ameriprise’s resources.
Another advantage is that it also allows greater access to Ameriprise’s stable of experts.
“It allows us to have greater access to people who are experts in their field,” Wickes said. “That’s one of the great things about working with Ameriprise, is there’s hundreds and hundreds of experts in their field. Any one of us doesn’t know everything, but if we come across questions, we are able to call them and get answers. It gives more exclusive use of some the experts within the company.”
Ameriprise will also do most of the due diligence in regards to making sure the private practice is still compliant under ever-changing state and federal regulations, freeing Oliver Wickes to concentrate on its mission to present sound financial advice to clients.
An added bonus to the firm is that Oliver recently achieved the Ameriprise Financial Private Wealth Advisor status; a distinction bestowed on only 12 percent of the company’s approximately 10,000 financial advisors nationwide.
To qualify for the distinction, Oliver and her practice had to meet various standards set forth by Ameriprise. Among them is a certain amount of production while in business, a certain amount of fee-based planning service, a certain number of clients with high net worth along with maintaining client satisfaction ratings.
Oliver said the achievement is a reflection of the firm’s high quality of service.
In her nearly three decades of service, she has dedicated her career to the planning side of financial and wealth management for her clients including clients’ cash flow, assets, and employer benefits. After analyzing the data she gives them recommendations on future financial decisions.
The company’s staff also consists of financial advisors David Horton and Terrence Lapan.
They estimated it serves about 400 clients, in a wide range of age groups. Changes in the financial planning and wealth management industry have created opportunities for firms. Horton for example, has accumulated a number of younger clients interested in saving for retirement.
“We help them retire with confidence,” Horton said with a smile.
Wickes said generally people are thinking about retirement when they turn 40, while more and more people are inclined to semi-retire rather than leave the workplace completely.
“My father worked for the phone company for 35 years and when he retired, he retired and went straight to the golf course,” Wickes said. “People today exercise more and take better care of themselves and are able to work at later ages.”
He also said pension plans that used to be commonplace in the workplace are fading away over time, leaving the responsibility of saving money to individuals themselves.
“Almost all the private companies have gotten away from pensions, and that forces people to take an active role in saving for the future.”
As part of the merger, Oliver Wickes’ office was remodeled to create a more professional, yet personalized and relaxed setting for clients. The office was repainted and a huge rectangular table sits in the lobby where advisors can meet advisors. Oliver will even serve cookies or other refreshments to clients.
Oliver said the décor is an important step in relieving the tension and intimidation clients often feel when they discuss their finances with an advisor.
“When a client walks through the door they will feel well-taken care of and welcomed,” Oliver said.
Oliver Wickes also hosts events such as wine tastings and social gatherings at its office, including one on April 27. It also hosts group outings at Reno Aces games to further promote its brand.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.