#FA Success Ep 298: Navigating The Evolution From Broker-Dealer To RIA Platform Leadership, With Carolyn Armitage

#FA Success Ep 298: Navigating The Evolution From Broker-Dealer To RIA Platform Leadership, With Carolyn Armitage

Welcome back to the 298th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Carolyn Armitage. Carolyn is the President of Thrivent Advisor Network, an RIA platform that offers partnership and affiliate models for financial advisors and oversees $6.5 billion in assets managed by over 20 affiliated independent advisor businesses.

What’s unique about Carolyn, though, is how she quickly rose through the corporate ranks in the financial services industry to leadership positions for several major broker-dealers, where she developed and implemented strategies to facilitate their transition from brokerage to advisory models… giving her a unique first-hand perspective over the past several decades on the industry’s ongoing evolution from brokerage to RIA platforms.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Carolyn grew her career to become a leader in the financial services industry and made her mark by becoming an established executor for major broker-dealers that wanted to shift away from solely commission-based models and add advisory models, the paths that Carolyn navigated at companies like H.D. Vest and Financial Network to improve upon or outright establish new advisory platforms within their existing brokerage businesses, and how in three short years, Carolyn built a new training and development platform for LPL’s largest advisors – helping them recruit and retain advisors, create better compensation packages, and even build succession and continuity plans – to the point that the program was so successful LPL had to de-emphasize and eventually disband the program just to avoid creating an over-concentration of growth in that subset of firms Carolyn had developed!

We also talk about how, while Carolyn was first working in the broker-dealer space, it was the opportunity she received to explore and analyze the newly emerging advisory side of financial services that led her to truly appreciate the benefits of financial planning for not only the client relationship but also the steady revenue streams it created for advisory firms, how Carolyn faced head-on the internal setbacks and challenges that arose as she was building new kinds of advisory platforms within very large firms that were sometimes resistant to change, and why Carolyn was ultimately inspired to join and lead Thrivent Advisor Network because of their transparency, ethical standards, and their commitment to their mantra of living generously by dedicating volunteer time (and hundreds of millions of dollars in donations) to help improve the communities they operate in.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Carolyn shares why she believes that financial advisors can benefit from focusing on intentionality when managing their business so that they can create space for themselves to concentrate on the parts of the business they love (like working with clients rather than being entrenched in the operational demands needed to scale and grow their businesses), why Carolyn believes in the importance of truly taking the necessary time to find the right employees that align with the values of the firm and can help build a positive work culture, and how Carolyn got comfortable to view her own mistakes and failures in business as learning opportunities to reflect and improve… and now tries to instill that belief within her team so they can feel safe in a nurturing environment where they have room to experiment and ultimately help the firm grow.

So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Carolyn navigated her career path through leadership roles as the financial services industry evolved and shifted toward adopting advisory models and focusing on financial planning, how Carolyn helped broker-dealers adopt RIA frameworks and enhance how they partner with financial advisors, or why Carolyn decided to lead an advisor network that aligns better with her values and focuses on living generously, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Carolyn Armitage.

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