Ex-$2B UBS Advisor Goes Indy to be More 'Nimble'
A former wirehouse advisor who once managed more than $2 billion in assets and who left UBS in September is now running his own firm.
Greg Hersch, who serves as CEO of Florence Capital Advisors in New York, says he left the wirehouse because he wanted to be an entrepreneur.
When he quit UBS three months ago, Hersch didn't even have an office for his new firm. He says he's been building Florence from the ground-up.
"I did it a little bit differently than most advisors do," Hersch says. "I knew it would be a massive undertaking and I didn't think it would be fair to my former employer to start this business on the side."
Hersch's move is somewhat uncommon in today's industry, where firms such as Dynasty Financial Partners and Focus Financial handle many of the logistics for big wirehouse teams and advisors looking to break away from their employers.
Although he hired Dynasty as a consultant, Hersch says he wanted to build his new firm himself from scratch.
"I didn't want to join any platform at this time. I wanted to build it myself. To the extent that I do this, I think it's the right arrangement for myself and my clients," he says.
Hersch, a 15-year wirehouse veteran, ranked as No. 7 for On Wall Street's Top 40 Advisors Under 40 list in 2012. At the time, he reportedly managed about $2 billion in client assets. Hersch declined to specify what his current AUM is, saying it was too premature.
"Suffice to say I wouldn't have made the decision to go independent if a large percentage of my clients weren't going to be supportive," Hersch says.
A UBS spokesman said it was the firm's policy not to comment on departures.
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Hersch says the independent model has always been attractive.
"Being on your own allows you to be more nimble. When you work for a big bank, it is challenging to think outside the box. It is challenging to do things on a one off basis. I approach every client as unique and who requires a customized approach," he says.
Hersch chose Pershing as his custodian and Fusion Analytics as his broker-dealer. FINRA BrokerCheck records show that he was briefly registered with Innovation Partners prior to registering with Fusion.
Hersch says he started the process of registering with that firm, but decided that the New York-based Fusion was a better fit than the Charlotte, N.C.-based Innovation Partners.
"Ultimately, I did not run any business with them," says Hersch, who adds that he also knows Fusion's CEO through a mutual acquaintance.
Two weeks ago, Florence opened its new office in midtown Manhattan, near Rockefeller Center. Although he's looking to hire additional staff, Hersch has no plans to recruit other advisors.
He chose the name Florence in part to honor his grandmother, who shared the city's name. Hersch says he also likes it because it evokes the Renaissance, and that era's innovation, creativity and progressive thinking.
"That's very much how I felt about the opportunity and blessing to go and create my own business in a way that I thought my clients wanted," he says. "It personally felt like a rebirth."
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