From Endowment to Wealth Management:
The Mindset Shifts of Peter Newman
By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Peter Newman, the president and founder of Peak Wealth Planning, has seen it all in the world of finance. After spending nearly two decades working in endowment investments, he switched to wealth management in 2014 and never looked back.
Leaving a stable, well-paying job in endowment investments was a big decision, but it was one that Peter felt compelled to make. And the reason was more than just the allure of making more money.
“There’s a lot easier ways to make money than being a wealth manager for a living,” Newman told me recently in a Zoom call. “The relationships you have with people as well as finding out later they think you did a good job and brought them peace of mind – that feedback is the reward.”
Newman’s journey from the endowment to wealth management wasn’t without its challenges. He outlined three fundamental mindset shifts that he had to make to succeed in this new field.
Shift #1: From Being Reactive to Proactive
In the world of endowment, you are constantly reacting to what the market is doing. You have managers buying and selling stocks and bonds, trying to outperform a benchmark. Or, you shift your asset allocation to earn more on cash or to outperform your peers.
“The biggest mindset change I had to make transitioning from endowment to personal wealth management had been moving from a reactionary role to a proactive, trusted advisor role,” he said, explaining how his new role involves anticipating the needs of his clients and helping them plan for the future.
Shift #2: Every Family is Unique
When working in an endowment, you invest in a particular asset class to achieve a specific goal. For example, you might be investing in venture capital to help support a university’s research initiatives. That is what Newman did at the University of Illinois, where he helped grow the endowment from $250 million to more than $700 million.
However, when you’re a wealth manager, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.
“The second mindset shift you have to make when transitioning from endowment to personal wealth management is recognizing every family is different,” he said. “And what it means to be a trusted adviser to a private equity family might be different for a second generation real estate family. There are also commonalities. Being adaptable, flexible and the willingness to continue learning are important attributes for a financial advisor.”
Shift #3: From Organizations to People
When you’re working in an endowment, your focus is on the organization you represent. You’re not necessarily thinking about the individual people who will be impacted by your decisions. But as a wealth manager, you are constantly thinking about the people who are your clients.
“This is a really personal business,” he said. “If you’re doing wealth management for families, you’re sitting across the table from a husband and wife, and the most important thing they’ve accomplished in their life is what you are talking about.”
“So, some of the conversations I have with people are: what’s your philosophy on money? What are your family’s core values? And oftentimes, they don’t question this level of engagement. But once in a while, I have to explain that I’m asking all these personal questions so I can put myself in their shoes and deliver the most relevant planning advice.” He added.
Article originally published to Opus Connect: Member Highlight, January 2022.
Opus Connect is a professional organization with members in fields of private equity, banking, finance, and other transactional professions. Membership to Opus Connect is by invitation only and all prospects are individually vetted and approved by the Opus Connect Selection Committee. Once admitted to our network, members gain unparalleled access to top-tier professionals through structured activities to form meaningful and long-lasting connections throughout the U.S.
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