Why I Made the Move to an Independent Wealth Manager: A Conversation with Certuity’s Daniel Lee

August 2023 – Certuity recently welcomed Daniel J. Lee as Partner, Chief Revenue Officer and Wealth Advisor. Prior to joining Certuity, Mr. Lee spent a decade working in the banking sector, advising sophisticated high- and ultra-high-net-worth families. 

In his previous role, Mr. Lee successfully grew new client wealth management assets, but he felt something was missing, namely an alignment between himself, his firm and his clients’ best interests. He knew there had to be a wealth management platform that provided the degree of transparency and unconflicted advice he craved and his clients deserved. He found that with Certuity.

We recently caught up with Mr. Lee to further explore why he decided to make the move to an independent wealth manager, what appealed to him about Certuity, and how clients stand to benefit:

Danny, you could have chosen to work for any number of wealth management firms. Why did you pick Certuity?

I did a lot of diligence and spoke with a number of firms before deciding on Certuity. I had the benefit of knowing Certuity’s President & Partner, Rich Bursek for a few years and have enjoyed watching the firm grow, which I attribute to its clear and compelling vision. Philosophical alignment is important, and not just from an investment standpoint, but also alignment around the desire to always strive to be better to ensure clients are receiving value. That’s the Certuity way and that is why I am here. 

Tell us about what sets Certuity apart in the marketplace. Who do you serve? And how do you approach client service differently than other wealth managers?

Certuity specializes in serving entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, family offices and professional investors. I truly love this business, but it is also a business that rewards complacency when markets and the economy are favorable. We are on the precipice of the greatest wealth transfer in history, to the tune of $68+ trillion. The reality is everyone in this business will benefit from this seismic passing down of wealth and it is easy as an Advisor to capture some of that wealth transfer. Is that a reason to stop pushing yourself? To stop evaluating every day if there is a better way to serve clients? To stop taking pride in intellectual rigor? We believe the answer to those questions is “absolutely not”. We always want to push ourselves. We take a tremendous amount of pride in what we do every day, making sure we are evolving and innovating on behalf of our clients, thinking for our clients. 

Another aspect of Certuity that is attractive to advisors like me is access to exclusive alternative investments for qualified clients, a deep family office platform and the use of technology. The company is privately held and is owned by its Partners and is not backed by private equity money – this helps ensure alignment with the best interests of clients.

It goes without saying that organizational culture is critical for team members and clients alike. How would you define the culture at Certuity?

We care immensely for the families we serve. We do not rest on our laurels and we are hyper focused on consistently delivering value. We hold ourselves accountable to clients and each other. Lastly, we love what we do, and that shines through every day. 

What is the vision for Certuity? How do you see your role contributing to those goals?

We want to continually demonstrate why we are among the best wealth management and multi-family office firms in the industry. To consistently drive value for our clients. To strive for excellence and go above and beyond what is required. That vision and commitment is clearly resonating with our clients as the firm has grown.

Do you have advice for other advisers and wealth professionals who are considering making a move to the independent space?

First, ask yourself, “Am I doing this just for me, or is it for my clients?” Clients should always come first, but with the right firm, you and your clients will both benefit. 

Second, do your diligence, not just from an economics or platform perspective, but from a culture and values perspective. Seek advice from people outside of the industry. Perspective is important, and it is vital that you widen your aperture when making a decision that doesn’t just impact yourself. 

How do clients benefit from working with a firm like Certuity? What are the advantages over other financial services firms?

It comes down to three essential elements: an institutional, open architecture platform, robust technology, and smart people. 

There are a lot of smart people out there, and while we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, Certuity shines in delivering innovative solutions along with white glove service, all with transparency and integrity at the center of everything we do. That’s incredibly appealing for advisors like me, as well as the clients we serve.