A conversation with the firm’s Founder, CEO and Chairman
Industry legend Rudy Adolf describes how the idea of Focus Financial Partners came to be, filling a gap in how independent financial advisors accessed capital, resources and monetized their life’s work, plus the firm’s journey as a public company, their growth, how they are further evolving and more.
About this episode…
It’s an American success story that started in Innsbruck, Austria, the birthplace of Rudy Adolf.
As the son of the owner of a local CPA firm, he learned early on the value of being an entrepreneur.
After graduating from the University of Innsbruck, Austria with a Doctor and Magister of Jurisprudence degree, he began his career working in the family business. Then in 1987, he relocated to Munich, Germany to work for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In 1990, he moved to the United States, where he was named Partner at McKinsey—an 11-year tenure that Rudy fondly credits as an incredible learning experience.
And it was a journey that evolved further when Rudy joined former McKinsey Partner Harvey Golub at American Express as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development and later Senior Vice President and General Manager of the American Express Global Brokerage and Banking division.
No doubt, it’s a resume that reads like few others.
But the real turning point was when he and partners Lenny Chang and Rajini Kodialam, American Express alum as well, launched Focus Financial Partners in 2004.
It was a vision that Rudy realized while working for a large organization like AMEX and learning about the shortcomings of how independent financial advisors accessed capital and monetized their life’s work. That is, most RIAs were by comparison small, and to access capital for scale and growth typically meant sacrificing their entrepreneurial spirit and culture. In other words, selling their business and becoming “employees.”
By the end of 2006 Focus had six partner firms in five states. Fast forward six years to 2012 and Focus expanded to 22 partner firms in over 30 locations, plus a partner firm in the U.K. Then in July of 2018, Focus became a public company listed on NASDAQ.
Today, Focus has grown to over 85 partner firms in more than 35 states, plus Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Switzerland, with over $1.8B in revenue.
It’s an incredible journey that literally changed the independent wealth management space, and a story that Rudy shares with Mindy Diamond, including:
- His background with McKinsey and AMEX—and how that experience shaped his vision for Focus.
- The choice to take Focus public—and how that has impacted the partner firms and business overall.
- The Focus value proposition—and why the firm is steadfast in their commitment to “never turn a successful entrepreneur into an employee.”
- The types of value-add services that Focus offers their partner firms—and how the power of scale, plus practice management support and client solutions benefit RIAs in growth and continuity.
- Plus, Rudy shares specific examples of their acquisitions and the resulting impact of their partnership with Focus, as well as his thoughts on the future.
Rudy earned his stripes by turning his vision into a reality—transforming the independent space. And based on his goals, you might say there’s much more to come.
It’s a rare and candid conversation with a true legend of the industry, so be sure to listen in.
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Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman
Rudy founded Focus in 2004 to advance the vision of leading independent, entrepreneurial wealth management firms and support them in what they do best–provide high quality advice to their clients – with additional support for growth; all without the limitations of traditional wirehouses. A recognized industry expert, Rudy frequently speaks at industry events and helps partner firms strategically grow their practices. He has been a member of the Focus board of directors since its formation in 2015.
From 1998 to 2003, Rudy served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the American Express Global Brokerage and Banking division. Prior to this role, Rudy was the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development. Before joining American Express, Rudy was a partner at McKinsey & Company.
When not working, Rudy is an avid world traveler and enjoys skiing – including heli-skiing – with his wife, two sons and daughter.
Rudy holds a Mag. iur. and a Dr. iur. from the University of Innsbruck, Austria.