The firm has three founders, it is in a three-way relationship with major financial firms, and now it has launched three niche initiatives designed to augment its growth.
“We have about 50 people, in offices around the greater Philadelphia area,” co-founder David Fleisher said, “and we are looking to add eight more experienced professionals by the end of 2013.” FFR, which has $750 million in assets under management, also might acquire other wealth management firms, Fleisher said.
Fleisher’s co-founders are Adam Sherman and Andrew McIlhenny. In 2006, their firm became a subsidiary of Firstrust Bank, a local community bank with a history dating back to 1934. “We can provide wealth management services to the bank’s clients,” Fleisher said. “Clients of community banks may be underserved.” At the same time, gaining exposure to the bank’s clients has fostered growth at Firstrust.
Fleisher, who is president of Firstrust, took on an additional role last year when he became managing director of MetLife Philadelphia, as a result of an agreement among the wealth management firm, its bank parent company, and the giant insurer. “We had been looking for a new broker-dealer,” Fleisher said, “and we chose MetLife. We put a premium on brand, balance sheet, and depth of products–we liked what found at MetLife.”
FFR’s affiliation with MetLife offers additional resources. “For example,” Fleisher said, “MetLife has an excellent employee financial education program, PlanSmart. Our firm always has been active in the 401(k) market, and PlanSmart allows us to go from retirement planning to broader financial education. We see this area as a source of substantial growth for our practice.”
Additional growth is expected from a new focus on three areas: planning for women, including divorce issues; planning for medical professionals; and planning for clients who have a family member with special needs. “The days of one-size-fits-all financial planning are fading quickly,” Fleisher said. “We tailor our plans to the needs of specific clients.”
Many of Firstrust’s clients are women, so the firm is developing a program focused on education and networking. “When it comes to working with medical professionals, no one speaks the language better than an M.D., so we brought in Aaron Wagner,” Fleisher said. A medical doctor, Wagner was recently hired by Firstrust as a registered representative and investment advisor representative.
Another financial planner at Firstrust, Jerel Ruttenberg, has a special needs child. Ruttenberg has been certified as a Special Needs Financial Planner by The MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning. “We have found that such expertise in certain areas can be a differentiating factor,” Fleisher said, adding that his firm is in a “really aggressive growth mode.”