Having an enriching experience of 30+ years in the finance industry, Liz Miller, CFP®, CFA, is the epitome of visionary leadership. Liz serves as the President at Summit Place Financial Advisors, LLC. Before launching Summit Place, Liz held increasingly senior roles at different financial service organizations. Her team at Summit Place offers a personalized goal-oriented approach to help people achieve their financial objectives. Combining her experience and expertise, Liz has significantly contributed to simplifying the financial lives of people.
In an interview with Insights Success, Liz sheds light on her professional journey and how Summit Place is helping people enjoy coordinated financial well-being at the most personal level.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Take our readers through your journey as a business leader until your current position at Summit Place Financial Advisors, LLC.
After years of managing institutional and individual client investment portfolios, I resigned my partnership at an investment management firm the morning Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2008. I launched Summit Place in the middle of the financial crisis, unsure if I would have a business to run by the end of the year. But after hearing more and more non- investment questions from my clients over the years, I had a vision to uniquely advise multigenerational families on their investments and legacy goals while coordinating the best advice among their other professionals.
One source of our successful growth has been my vision that the niche market of clients with $5-$25M in assets had out-grown the financial industry’s cookie-cutter approach to clients and was looking for coordinated, holistic wealth expertise. Leading a start-up financial services firm, it is tempting to take on every client that is looking for an advisor, but I kept to my vision and held the team focused on our target clients where we knew we could offer enormous value. Internally, we regularly discuss what that client looks like and what they seek in financial services.
Also, from the firm’s beginning, I had a vision to include every generation of a family, as I recognize that strong relationships with younger generations help assure family continuity, stewardship, and general accord. Long before the industry mentioned “millennials,” we were offering them dedicated service and advice as passionately as we do for their parents. This has been a second source of growth, as we consistently see maturing parents looking for a firm that will include, respect, and “educate” their adult children.
What makes your organization a preferred choice for your clients over the competition?
We know that genuine relationships grow over time, and when carefully built, they can last generations. This is the core of our approach to clients. Unlike many firms that assign hundreds of clients to advisors and put growth as their first annual business goal, Summit Place puts exceptional client experience as our top goal. We are committed to maintaining a team that has the time each day to think about our clients, what is happening in their lives and their potential needs. We want to anticipate how we can help before our clients reach out to us.
Summit Place Financial Advisors, LLC Summit Place also stands out in the crowded financial services industry by targeting a growing and ignored market niche: those with $5-$25 million in wealth whose financial complexity demands more than mass-market solutions.
There are now so many more rules and laws around taxes and estate planning that many families with wealth have become overwhelmed trying to understand and coordinate all the facets of their financial lives. Summit Place offers coordinated financial services based on a full view of our client’s circumstances. We help clients consider how all parts of their financial life work together and we communicate with all appropriate professionals, sharing expertise and building vetted solutions to present to our clients.
What is your idea of impactful leadership? What style of leadership do you personally prefer at Summit Place Financial Advisors, LLC?
I believe impactful leadership is a style that leads each member of my team to a greater level of success and satisfaction. It focuses on the end goals of the firm while executing with an eye toward the development of employees. I lead with individual goals for employees that encompass both task-oriented goals at the firm as well as professional development toward the employee’s stated desires.
I lead with a blend of an authoritative strategic vision married to participatory engagement and support. I value collaboration and positive thinking and believe each of my employees is capable of more than they yet realize. I am committed to helping them get there for their personal good that ultimately supports and serves the firm.
What is your thought on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to innovative thinking to solve complex problems?
In the past few years, we launched “MySummitPlace.com” linking to a third-party provider for a more interactive experience that appeals to all generations of our clients. Our site provides secure document organization and storage of financial statements, meeting presentations, and important documents. These can be shared with us or kept private; they can also be shared with other allied professionals on a document-by-document basis. The site also aggregates all our clients’ financial assets and liabilities for a full view in a single sign on. Clients can also generate reports for their own financial management needs at their site. Our younger clients embrace the aggregation of credit card accounts and budgeting within their site. They also enjoy having mobile access on their tablets and phones. This implementation has enhanced client management from our end as well. It used to be a complex and manual process to gain a full view of our clients’ financial assets.
Today, we can view our client’s full financial picture and integrate the information into other tools to deliver truly personalized solutions. This is critical for our complex clientele that rely on us for our unique perspective and expertise to their full wealth situation. Now, we are able to manage investments to their investment policy with real-time reviews of their other assets.
In what ways have you or the company contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in Investment plans for solving the most complex financial problems?
I care deeply about giving back. Based on our work, we have been honored for more than five years as the top financial services firm in Summit, NJ based on our outstanding service to clients and the community. Additionally, I serve on the board of directors of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc, helping to bring qualified and ethical financial planning to the broader public.
A few years ago, I established a mentoring program for young women entering the financial services industry. BE ME- Believe Envision Mentor Empower – invites women from local universities in their Junior year through professionals up to 5 years out. We meet virtually monthly to discuss career topics and share support for each other. I believe that developing and supporting a more diverse community of financial professionals is the single biggest change our industry can make to solve our future challenges.
I am also an alumni interviewer for my alma mater sharing my experiences with students interested in Penn and Wharton, and I am a member of the Women’s President’s Organization supporting other female professionals.
What would be your advice to the up-and-coming women entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the finance industry?
I believe that it takes many different characteristics to be successful in the financial industry. The thing that may be most important, in my opinion, is the understanding that lasting relationships grow over time. I’ve always felt committed to building authentic connections with clients and prospects who provide growth to the firm and my employees who contribute to it. Secondly, these days it is important to embrace media outlets to build credibility and a strong public image. I bring attention to my expertise and Summit Place through radio and television spots and articles. Finally, I believe you must be strategic to be a successful financial leader. Not only do you need a strategy in place for your firm today, but where it will be in 5 years and what business moves, you will need to make to support your clients to stay ahead of an evolving industry.