Entity

Independent RIA

Location

Clearwater, Florida

Year Founded

2012

AUM

$364 million

Staff

7

Service Offering

Financial Planning, Estate Planning, Investment

Joined Mercer Advisors

2017

Motivation

Principals needed added depth of resources and support for HNW, multi-generation family clients increase family office service offering

Greg Willsey and Sandra Nesbit founded GFS Private Wealth in 2012 after more than 25 years of industry experience. They started the firm to focus on families and the client-centered experience, and to advise, guide, and motivate clients to implement solutions that simplify their lives. GFS specializes in providing comprehensive investment and life-planning solutions to affluent individuals and their families.

According to Sandra, Principal and Managing Partner, their firm has always been focused on fee-only, holistic financial planning, and multi-generational wealth management, which has been the key to their success. They always understood, and continue to believe in, a holistic financial planning approach.

Focus on Multi-Generational Wealth Management

Sandra and Greg grew their team to seven professionals who were focused on the multi-generational needs of wealthy families. “We found it difficult to source and hire talent to grow our business.”

This talent gap was symptomatic of the operational and daily business management challenges for a firm their size. So much so, that Sandra and Greg, after many discussions, soul searching, and industry research, began the process of looking at partner firms that could provide them with more depth and resources to continue their growth.

“A key aspect of our work with HNW families was the need for a corporate trustee,” Sandra said. “We encourage our clients to focus on their family wealth as a business. It is more than an inheritance; it’s more like managing a business and often there are needs for a corporate trustee. We created Mainsail Family Trust, a Trust Representative Office of National Advisors Trust, to facilitate the family’s needs.”

Discovering Similar Core Values

According to Sandra, it was Mercer Advisors’ acquisition of a Texas trust company that sparked her interest into having a conversation with them. When she discovered other core values, such as a focus on the planning process and family office services, she knew she wanted to pursue opportunities with Mercer Advisors.

Sandra and Greg conducted quite a bit of due diligence on the many potential partner firms available in the industry and concluded very quickly that there were very few options that would work. “We didn’t want to be part of a roll-up or any aggregator as that seemed like a short-term solution and wouldn’t work for our clients and staff in the long run,” Sandra added.

The Clear Choice

What clinched the deal for Sandra and Greg was the reaction they received from their clients when they broached the idea of joining Mercer Advisors. “Our families were pleased that we would be joining a national firm with more resources and offices nationally,” Sandra said.

Additionally, Sandra and Greg appreciated the fact that Mercer Advisors has a centralized support platform and a full-time, professional management team. “We had many roles in our firm, including compliance and HR. Now we will be able to spend more time providing solutions for clients,” Sandra noted.

While it was a difficult decision for Sandra and Greg to consolidate their business with Mercer Advisors, the opportunity tradeoff made it more than worth it. Sandra said, “We are proud of our business, and when we met with the management team and spoke to other partner firms at Mercer Advisors, their passion came through and it excited us—not only Greg and me, but our entire team. Our staff will now have a much richer experience and a more robust career path.”

Mercer Advisors Benefits for GFS Private Wealth
  • Expanded resources, centralized support, alignment of corporate trustee and family office services that will assist in the growth and support of their HNW family clients
  • Immediate acquisition capital
  • Mercer’s footprint creates career opportunities for GFS’s professional staff
GFS Private Wealth Benefits for Mercer Advisors
  • Multi-generational planning experience
  • Financial planning expertise

Looking for partnership solutions?

We help RIAs with growth, succession planning or exit strategies. We offer a myriad of solutions to help take care of and service existing clients. Speak with our Vice President of Business Development, William Perysian.

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