Ross Lawrence, a Sam M. Walton College of Business alumnus, is among the 500 listed in Forbes magazine’s inaugural America’s Top Next Generation Wealth Advisors.
Lawrence, A 2011 finance graduate, is owner, president and financial advisor of White Ember Financial Planning in Nevada, Missouri. His team nominated him in March, and he underwent several telephone interviews by SHOOK Research, an organization of wealth advisors and industry leaders hired by Forbes to conduct its list. Lawrence was one of 19,616 contenders who met the criteria to be considered for the designation – one of which required the advisor to have been born after 1980.
“The interview questions were extremely detailed, covering everything from how I got to where I am, to the growth and culture of the firm, to where we are headed,” Lawrence said. “After several interviews, I was told that they were going to try to come out to see me and interview me in person, but I never heard back. So I assumed that I didn’t make the cut. I actually didn’t find out that I had made the list until the article came out!”
Forbes reported White Ember to have team assets listed at $121 million with typical household accounts ranging from $300,000 to $3 million. Lawrence was one of seven from Missouri to be named one of America’s Top Next Generation Wealth Advisors.
“These are the industry’s future leaders; the stewards for their clients and their next generations, and those who will help mold the direction of Wealth Management,” the Forbes article said.
Lawrence, who is originally from and Fayetteville, had aspired to work in a big city like Chicago or New York upon graduation. Instead, he did something different: he began eyeing a firm in Nevada, Missouri – a town with a population of about 8,000 – he thought he might like to someday own. While interviewing for a position there, he told the firm’s founder and owner, Greg Hoffman, his intentions. Hoffman, who was entertaining the idea of retiring within the next 10 to 15 years, worked with Lawrence on a purchase plan and, as of January 2016, Lawrence assumed ownership. That same year, he was the cover story for Financial Planning magazine because he structured a deal to buy Hoffman’s investment management firm by using his business strategy knowledge from Walton.
He and Hoffman renamed the business White Ember Financial Planning, a reference to when hunters-gatherers would keep the white embers going as fire was critical for cooking and survival. “At White Ember, it is our job to brush off the ash and relight the fire of your finances to make sure that our clients families are taken care of for generations,” Lawrence said.
When White Ember assumed its new name, it also joined the Carson Institutional Alliance, which provides the firm with its own investment committee, wealth enhancement team and other resources its clients may need.
Lawrence attributes his Walton education as one of the keys to his success.
“It is extremely humbling to have the designation as a Forbes ranked advisor, but even more exciting is the verification that this gives us,” Lawrence said. “This tells me that we are doing great things, we are headed in the right direction and that the investments that we have made in ourselves are already paying off.”