Less than three months after Madison, Wisconsin-based Thun Financial revealed that it was in advanced talks to be acquired by one of the largest one of the largest Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firms in the U.S., two members of its expat-focused wealth management team have moved to another Madison-based firm with an expat-American business, Walkner Condon Financial Advisors.
At Walkner Condon, Syl Michelin and Stanton "Stan" Farmer re-join another former Thun wealth manager, Walkner Condon director of international advisory services Keith Poniewaz, who made the move in 2018, after three years at Thun.
Michelin and Farmer said that although they understood that others might relish the opportunity to become part of a major, and rapidly-growing, organization the size of Creative Planning – the Overland Park, Kansas-based company that Thun Financial is becoming a part of – they preferred to "re-join forces with Keith, and build a truly boutique expat advisory practice that emphasizes the personal touch", which also involved a potential personal stake in the firm's ownership.
As reported here in June, Creative Planning's take-over of Thun is expected to complete in the third quarter of this year, at which point it will become Creative Planning's first overseas-focused division.
Walkner Condon founding partner Clint Walkner admitted in a statement that Michelin and Farmer had been at the top of a short list of advisers Poniewaz had said "he respected and had values that would align with ours" when he and fellow founding partner Nate Condon approached Keith about the possibility of adding advisers to their firm's expat team, after the Thun Financial sale announcement had been made.
Asked to comment, Thun Financial founder David Kuenzi said his company's partnership with Creative Planning would enable it to "spend more time with our clients. Our international investment advisers now have the technology, investment, planning, tax and legal support we simply didn’t have before.
"Our team is excited about all we can now do for our international clients, and we are singularly focused on being the best possible option for individuals requiring specialized help. We can provide that now more than ever."
On Tuesday Creative Planning, which is reported to look after more than US$50bn in assets on behalf of U.S. clients, announced its latest and thus far largest advisory firm acquisition, Atlanta-based, U.S.-client-only TrueWealth, which itself has a reported US$1.6bn in AUM.
Michelin, on the right in the above photograph, is originally from France. He began his careeer in financial services in 2005 with the private banking arm of Citibank -- initially in Dublin -- after having obtained a bachelor's degree from the New York Institute of Technology, in New York City. He went on to receive his Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute in 2012. During his time with Citibank, he was posted at various times to Geneva, London and finally, New York, before moving to Thun Financial in 2018.
In a YouTube interview on Walkner Condon's recently-launched YouTube channel, he said he enjoys working with international clients "because of the diversity of backgrounds" of those who come through the door.
"The type of clients that I work with are typically U.S. expats, [but also] just international families, some [of whom have] U.S. ties.
"What they have in common is fairly complex financial situations that require understanding not just one set of rules, but rules that apply to them across multiple jurisdictions."
At Walkner Condon, Michelin will help to advise clients in addition to serving as portfolio strategy director for the company.
Farmer, who is in the center of the photograph above, is originally from the U.S., but like Michelin, has lived and worked in a number of financial jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Luanda (Angola), Dubai and Lisbon.
He began his career as an attorney in the Mineappolis/St Paul area of Minnesota before joining the Minneapolis office of Merrill Lynch in 2004, before heading abroad for the first of his various foreign postings in 2007. He joined Thun Financial in 2014, from the Minneapolis-area office of Morgan Stanley, and began what was to become his current focus on providing financial planning and investment advice to U.S. expat clients around the globe.
Farmer is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he majored in economics, and also has a masters degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a law degree from the University of Iowa.
Walkner Condon Financial Advisors was founded in 2012, and is regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
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