Liz Miller saw clients wrestling with wealth management as it grew increasingly complex under the weight of changing tax laws, estate planning innovations and an explosion of obscure investment choices.
The call for help, she noted, came primarily from those with assets between $5 million and $25 million—too much for mass-market brokerage services, but not enough to gain the attention of financial advisers catering to the very wealthy.
Miller decided to act, launching Summit Place Financial Advisors despite the turmoil shaking financial markets at the time. Indeed, Miller left her previous job on the same day in 2008 that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.
The economy remains a challenge for the 5-year-old Summit Place Financial Advisors. It takes longer to develop new business, Miller says. Nonetheless, the firm is thriving, having added three employees so far and making plans to hire more over the next five years.
“The key to our success is a clear vision of our niche client,” Miller says. “It is difficult to turn away business, but sticking to our niche of highly successful clients with complex financial needs has enabled us to grow steadily and create a unique identity for our services in a crowded financial marketplace.”
Miller has made sure the firm carves a niche in the nonprofit world, as well. Summit Place supports the Chautauqua Institution, Paper Mill Playhouse, Teach For America and Citymeals-on-Wheels, which serves more than 16,500 elderly New Yorkers.
Miller also is active in the Women Presidents’ Organization, where she has found inspiration in the examples of other successful women.
“New Jersey is a wonderful place for startups,” she adds. “While the legal and registration requirements for a new business are daunting, our state is full of supportive local banks, community business organizations and centers for entrepreneurial development that help business leaders and their growing companies.”
Year Founded: 2008
No. of Employees: 4
Products/Services: Personalized wealth management services to families and business executives.
Mission/Value Statement: “We provide independent investment management and wealth planning to those who have outgrown mass-market brokerage firm approaches. We help wealthy multigenerational families and successful business executives simplify the growing complexity in their financial lives, and access the expertise they need for their tax and estate issues. With comfort, control and peace of mind, we help you achieve your lifestyle and legacy goals.”