August 10, 2015 — 12:28 PM PDT by Kelly O'Mara
Brooke’s Note: One of the remarkable happenings in the RIA business as it gains critical mass and shows staying power is the emergence of specialized firms that allow for the outsourcing of tasks previously done in-house or delivered as part of a bundle. Exhibit A is Amy Parvaneh’s effort to sell what we didn’t really know we could buy — turnkey asset gathering. Let’s call it TAG. Not only does she do what so many Zig Ziglars of times past have done and give you a pep talk to go out and make sales — Parvaneh is providing the pep along with the talk. But although the former Goldman Sachs stockbroker broke away from Wall Street leaving behind $1 billion of AUA on the table, she is finding her passion for the asset-gathering version of big game hunting to be energizing. Rather than landing accounts for a brokerage firm known for proprietary investment, Parvaneh is pitching and selling on behalf of thoughtful RIAs. This level of deal wiring would be hard to deliver for the best, thickest-skinned saleswoman. Can it be done? Kelly O’Mara came away with the impression that if anyone is qualified, that she got to meet her.
When building a high-end advisory practice, few advisors have the moxie and patience it takes to dig up, follow up and win the trust of ultra-wealthy client prospects.
Yet often, even moxie and patience alone aren’t enough when risking the contemptuous rejection that only the very rich in America can so poisonously deliver.
Fear of such humiliation keeps many an advisor holed up in their cubicle praying that Uncle Ralph comes through with introductions to those well-heeled golf buddies he’s always talking about.
But for Amy Parvaneh, a former Goldman Sachs cold-calling star, the world is nothing like that. The child of Iranian immigrants grew up keeping a Gatsby-sharp eye on her wealthier Long Island neighbors. Her startup business in Los Angeles is based on her unique training and fearlessness in the face of people who, by definition, have more money than they know what to do with. See: Dissecting the pathology of UHNW wealth managers who want brand building without marketing.
She’s now selling those skills, with a staff of nine, to the financial professionals who need them most — RIAs — at a premium but with results guaranteed.
I met Parvaneh recently at a high-end coffee shop in Santa Monica, Calif. In her late 30s, she is neatly made-up and wearing a patterned wrap-dress that looks expensive by dint of its material and cut rather than from any particular showiness. This is the Parvaneh — understated yet glamorous — who wins the confidence of the rich and the RIAs who serve them.
She filled me in the dramatic details of her life story between sips of tea.
Tehran to Great Neck
Parvaneh was born in Tehran on Feb. 11, 1979 — a day better known as the start of the Iranian Revolution. As fighting broke out in the streets of the capital city, her mother was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section. When Parvaneh was 12, the family fled the country with just two suitcases. They made it first to Switzerland and then on to the United States where they had relatives living in Great Neck, N.Y., a city that now has the country’s second-highest concentration of Iranians.
When the family first settled in America, no one spoke English. In Iran, Parvaneh’s dad was an engineer; in the United States he found work as a mechanic. Her mother, a lawyer by training, worked at a Laundromat. The family of four lived crammed into a one-bedroom apartment, surrounded by the wealthy families of Nassau County. See: How RIA business players in New York are roughing it through Hurricane Sandy.
Parvaneh became fascinated by those monied families, and slightly obsessed with becoming rich herself. “I was intrigued by wealth,” she says.
Accordingly, Parvaneh set out to learn the ways and wants of the very rich. In pursuit of that goal, she earned an MBA at Duke University in Durham, N.C. and then studied luxury brand management at the ESSEC Business School outside of Paris, learning what drives demand of luxury items. (The answer: not low costs but limited supply — the rare watch, not the inexpensive one.) See: The backstory of how a Merrill UHNW team found love in the time of U-5 — but not with an RIA.