If you have ever doubted the power of using the right words, consider the LinkedIn message received by Beth Bosworth from the original founder of Lakeview Capital Partners. It read: Hey, I saw your profile. You have an interesting career path. I would love to get together and swap stories.
“I will never forget that sentence, ‘I would love to get together and swap stories,’” Bosworth recalls. “It was really casual; it didn’t feel like industry talk. I use it now all the time because it was very personal. Just, ‘I am interested in you and would you be interested in getting to know each other?’ I loved that and it was the right time for me to consider my next step.”
The appeal is obvious when one meets Bosworth. There is no business lingo. There is no artifice. There is no game face. Bosworth still exudes much of the same unbridled energy, casualness and cheer that (one would imagine) made her a prized Zeta recruit during her sorority days at the University of Georgia — a choice she made based largely on her desire for a robust social life and some big-time Division I college football. Yes, that’s Beth Bosworth in the bleachers screaming something encouraging that, along with her attending student body, swept the Bulldog football team to another of its many victories.
The effervescence and party-dress personality endures. So does her success in the private wealth space.
THE DAWG POUND
Her collegiate years took Bosworth to Athens, Ga., where she became a University of Georgia Bulldog, an ideal venue for an inveterate college football fan seeking a powerhouse pigskin program for which to root. While at UGA she became the latest in a long line of family members to join Zeta Tau Alpha. The roaring social life is one of the chief reasons she selected UGA over Georgia Tech, to which she was also accepted, and the place her older sister had enrolled.
“I like to say I made a social decision,” Bosworth relates, in explaining why she became a Bulldog rather than a Yellow Jacket. “I kind of always looked forward to college to have fun. I joke that I worked on my social skills while I was in college, and Georgia Tech is so difficult, it requires so much intellectual time just to even get through some of the required courses. I watched my sister and her friends struggle. Athens is known for being a party school, and you can have a lot of fun. I decided based where I would have the most fun, so I went to UGA. I had a blast and really stretched my legs.”
It wasn’t exactly a peculiar decision, given that 17 other family members had already attended UGA.
Bosworth originally majored in marketing with a minor in Spanish. Then she did a brief stint studying journalism and also enrolled in calculus classes simply because she had always excelled in math. By her junior year she still didn’t know what discipline she wanted listed on her degree, but had accumulated so many credits in her minor she decided that Spanish Literature would take her to the finish line, even spending her final semester in Valencia, Spain.
“It was incredible,” she recalls. “I had never been overseas — other than maybe the Caribbean, where I was blessed to do some family trips — so this was my first foreign experience. It ended up being such a life-defining experience in so many different ways.”
LIFE AMONG THE PEACH TREES
Bosworth could hardly be a more bona fide Atlanta denizen. Father was an executive at Coca-Cola Enterprises, then the world’s largest bottler for the Coca-Cola Co., the city’s first Fortune 500 company, founded in 1886 by Dr. John Pemberton, who served the now-legendary beverage for the first time at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta. The family moved to Knoxville, Tenn., during Bosworth’s high school years when Coke assigned her father to run bottling operations there. Bill Bosworth moved his family back to Atlanta just in time for his daughter’s college years.
Further deepening the family’s ties to Atlanta are Bosworth’s mother and sister, Marty Bosworth and Laura Bosworth Horsford, respectively. Mother works as a realtor with Harry Norman Realtors, which focuses on the city’s luxury housing market, while Bosworth’s sister has spent most of her career at Delta Airlines, the city’s largest employer, with 34,500 people on its local payroll.
It wasn’t only geography that defined her development and sensibilities; it was also the big, warm embrace of family — the Bosworth and McRae branches. Bosworth was perpetually surrounded by grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, all living in close proximity.
“I didn’t lose my first grandparent until I was in college,” she says.
The family often headed to Highlands, N.C., located on a plateau in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest. There her uncle was involved in a real estate development called Ravanel Ridge, a residential neighborhood named after the family that owned the plantation home previously located on the property, which sits on one of the most popular mountains in Highlands. Family excursions to the mountains often revolved around skiing.
Bosworth is quick to note, however, that she is not the product of a wealthy family, while acknowledging she, her siblings and extended family were “very well cared for and didn’t want for anything.”
THE $8 MILLION OVERDRAFT
As indecisive as Bosworth was during her college years, graduation did not exactly clarify matters. Still unsure what she wanted to do with her life, she admittedly made a decision she considered “really strange” at the time: joining a financial recruitment firm.
“I thought I could learn about the finance industry,” she says. “We were trying to teach people interviewing skills, resume building, all other skills. One of the big things it did for me was take away my phone fear and made me willing to call into any kind of blind situation and feel like I could deal with it.”
A little less than a year later, Bosworth left the recruiting firm to move to Nashville. While transferring her bank accounts to local branches of Bank of America and SunTrust, she dealt with financial service representatives that reminded her of herself.
“I thought, ‘you seem personality-wise similar to me — extroverted, borderline bubbly and definitely eager,’” she recalls. “I thought it was interesting to see people like me in this role at these two different institutions.”
Bosworth decided to apply at SunTrust, partly because of geographic and family bias: The regional banking powerhouse was based in Atlanta and her grandfather was part of a group that founded a small-town Georgia bank that was ultimately sold to SunTrust; he even occupied a board position with SunTrust.
“There was this fondness and appreciation for SunTrust and a greater understanding of the history of the bank,” Bosworth explains. “Friends I had grown up with had parents who worked at Sun Trust.”
The people at SunTrust liked what they saw in Bosworth too, hiring her to work in its wealth management arm and, fortuitously, the bank’s sports and entertainment group. That placed Bosworth in an office on Music Row in Nashville, where she catered to country music stars in a private banking environment.
“I will be forever grateful to whoever made that decision. It was an incredible opportunity for a 23-year-old.”
That only happened after some aptitude testing and stringent interviewing by bank executives to ensure she was the right fit for the specialized clientele. Indeed, Bosworth would meet with teams of people representing the celebrities, including business managers, accountants, finance managers and such — all from different firms and often providing conflicting information. The barriers she repeatedly encountered between the end clients and their brusque service providers soon frustrated the young and personable Bosworth, who sought a deeper, more direct connection with her banking clients.
There were also the spur-of-the-moment No. 1 parties, as they are called, to celebrate when a client’s song or album topped the Billboard chart.
“We would get pushed and pulled in all these different directions,” says Bosworth. “There was this social component that was a little bit grueling in support of the industry. You have to be very accommodating, and rightfully so.”
There was the time she mistakenly moved a client’s money in the wrong direction and created an $8 million overdraft in the account of a very famous country music singer. Despite that contretemps, Bosworth instinctively knew within the first three months that personal finance was what she was meant to do — helping individuals and families work through tough financial decisions, guiding them toward achieving their goals and celebrating their successes.
After a full high-intensity year on Music Row, Bosworth decided it was time to move past the sports and entertainment niche.
“The things I got to do, it was unbelievable,” she acknowledges, “but it’s a very different pace and a very different client makeup than the traditional wealth-management environment. So, I left after a year, even though it was really hard to leave Music Row and come down to headquarters.”
Back in Atlanta at SunTrust’s burgeoning headquarters office, Bosworth was given a new title: high-net-worth banking consultant. She worked in tandem with the bank’s commercial team, a unit focused on successful business owners.
Bosworth could have been comfortably ensconced in the big-name banking environment for the duration of her career, but as she developed a fuller understanding of the expansive private wealth business, it became clear financial planning was her true calling. This prompted her move to Resource Planning Group, an Atlanta-based boutique RIA, where founder and principal John Howard became a mentor.
Howard was highly credentialed — sporting legal and accounting degrees, including a CFP certificate — and played an integral role in her professional development.
“He is a remarkable adviser and has made me who I am today as a financial planner, there is no doubt. There is not a day that his influence or something I learned while at Resource Planning Group doesn’t come through,” Bosworth says, dubbing the firm an old-fashioned scratchpad planning firm. “He learned how to do his job well before there was ever a financial planning software. The reconciliation process we would go through to validate results was one of the most unique things about how I was trained. It was much less technology heavy.”
Bosworth’s stint at Resource Planning Group reached its sunset when the tantalizing “let’s swap stories” missive from Lakeview Capital pinged her LinkedIn account. She was subsequently hired as the firm’s director of financial planning.
“We took a risk on each other, I would say. It turned out to be a great fit for me.”
One of Bosworth’s early contributions to her new firm was placing renewed emphasis on the onboarding process to lock in new clients or turn prospects into clients.
“The right way to onboard a client is to take them through at least some level of comprehensive audit of their entire financial picture. It’s an opportunity to flex your muscles in front of a client and really show them, number one, what it is like to be a client and, number two, how we add value. We used financial planning as the best possible prospecting tool to decide if a client is the right fit for us, decide if we are the right fit for the client, and what they needed in terms of priority and set them on their trajectory.”
Bosworth excelled at both Resource Planning Group and Lakeview Capital based largely on her assertiveness.
“In this business, clients want you to have an opinion,” she explains. “We virtually get paid to have an opinion, so being willing to assert my opinion, to have tough conversations, is something people have told me time and time again they value about me.”
Also crucial to client rapport, in Bosworth’s case, is her willingness to share personal information with her clients.
“People share so much with me that is truly personal, so I really think they would say I also share my experiences — about my family, my health and other topics,” says Bosworth. “I want people to feel comfortable, so I provide a safe place for them to tell me anything because, at the end of the day, I need them to share the truth.”
BULLISH ON DISRUPTION
The common term used to describe the Lake-view Capital business model is “aggregator.”
“We are a platform for people to go independent,” says Bosworth. “We joke that we are the home for the pissed off broker.”
Appealing to the ranks of the disenchanted has been a formula good enough to bring billions of investor dollars under the firm’s purview and advisement. All of the firm’s brokers have their own books of business and own organizational setup, operating independently of one another. Lakeview Capital works to ensure independent advisers derive value from the firm’s platform. Currently, the firm has five offices and is looking to add more.
“I would say it is time for us to break out of the Southeast, to move from a regional firm to a national firm,” says Bosworth. “There are actually a lot of opportunities out there for us that do just that, and we are pretty far down the line with some of those opportunities.”
What sets Lakeview Capital apart from rival RIAs, in Bosworth’s estimation, is its break-the-mold culture, which she likens to a technology startup, a place where independent and alternative thinking are valued. No objective is emphasized more than bringing institutional-grade investment opportunities to rank and file investors.
“We want to break down any boundary that stands in the way of bringing wealth management solutions to retail clients,” she says. “We have plenty of ultra-high-net-worth clients, but we see what they are offered in a lot of traditional wealth management spaces versus a retail client who may be an up and comer, or maybe a business owner, or maybe light on financial assets. Whatever it may be, we need to break down the barriers of what is reserved for the ultra-high-net-worth and make sure that, as much as we can, we are bringing that to any client that walks in our door.”
That would include direct investments in alternatives and hard assets. The most exotic asset in Bosworth’s portfolio? Marijuana, though she gets much more excited about disruptive and innovative technologies, citing uber asset manager Cathie Wood and the outrageous performance she is wringing out of her actively managed and disruptive-technology-focused ETF funds at ARK Investment Management. Bosworth says Wood’s investment themes in disruptive technologies (such as artificial intelligence, robotics, energy storage and genomics) also take aim at the betterment of society.
“We are going through a second phase of the technological revolution, and the speed at which innovation is delivered is increasing, and so is the impact it’s having on how we live,” Bosworth remarks. “I am incredibly bullish about innovative and disruptive technologies.”
Among her extracurricular activities is Bosworth’s involvement with the United States Tennis Association, where she is immediate past president of USTA Atlanta, and incoming treasurer for the USTA Georgia board of directors.
“I started playing competitive tennis, believe it or not, when I was 6 years old,” says Bosworth. “I did everything my sister did. I still play as much as I can.”
Time for tennis became an issue when Bosworth and her wife, Erin Beacham, deputy regional director for the southeast region at the Anti-Defamation League, became the parents of two children, ages 2-and-a-half and 1.
“Weekends look so different now.”
What isn’t looking so different is the direction of Bosworth’s career, which appears set in place, barring another well-chosen message sent to her LinkedIn account.
Mike Consol (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter @mikeconsol to read his latest postings.