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The Importance of People Over Technology at an RIA


The Importance of People Over Technology at an RIA

In the ninth episode of The COO Roundtable, Matt welcomed Susan Dickson and Suzanne Williamson, principals of Private Ocean.  Susan is the Chief Operating Officer of the firm, and Suzanne is the Director of Client Services.

Private Ocean, headquartered in San Rafael, CA, manages over $2 billion in client assets with 51 employees and has additional offices in San Francisco and Seattle. With the goal of highlighting that people come before technology in the COO role, Matt, Susan, and Suzanne sat down to discuss the importance of culture, how that culture can successfully translate to M&A acquisitions, and much more, including:

  • The history and tremendous growth Private Ocean has experienced since its founding in 1983
  • Susan and Suzanne’s respective backgrounds and how they both have impacted and managed Private Ocean’s growth
  • The pros and cons Susan faced coming from outside the industry as COO
  • Suzanne’s unique role as Director of Client Services and how she acts as the liaison between various departments throughout the organization
  • The importance of culture at Private Ocean and the post-hire personality test they have instituted to help ensure their culture remains intact as they add more employees
  • How Susan, as COO, is involved in M&A transactions from the very beginning of negotiations
  • Suzanne’s role in integrating their acquisitions’ various client service models under one roof

Related: Advisors Are Struggling with Too Much Technology, Not Too Little

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