A group of seasoned wealth advisory professionals has launched Private Wealth Asset Management LLC, a sophisticated wealth management and financial services firm designed to serve ultra-high-wealth individuals and families in Iowa and Nebraska.

The firm’s chairman and co-founder, Timothy Kneen, is a serial entrepreneur and 33-year veteran of the investment industry. Working with Jeff Shipley, a former Wells Fargo financial adviser who has more than 25 years of private banking experience, the two met with advisers across the country before choosing Iowa and Nebraska as its market.

The private bank model they’re launching seeks to provide a circle of experts and services to surround clients with subject matter experts in diverse financial fields to provide comprehensive guidance.

The firm, which will be based in downtown Cedar Rapids, will have an equally large office in West Des Moines’ Valley Junction and a third, smaller office in Omaha. Currently operating with about 40 professionals, Private Wealth is located in temporary spaces in each city as permanent offices are being completed.

Kneen, an Ottumwa native who spent much of his career in Denver, with Shipley recruited an ownership team of five wealth advisers, all of whom are established in Iowa or Nebraska. Shipley was most recently a consultant in the Denver area, advising private wealth managers.

The five majority-ownership partners have built a 40-member team that is establishing offices in downtown Cedar Rapids, Valley Junction in West Des Moines and Omaha. The founding adviser/partners are Dave Arens, Chris Casey, Heather Fortune Vestweber, Brett Halley and David Holtorf.

“We chose Iowa because of these people,” Kneen said of the five local partners. “We didn’t see a common vision anywhere else.”

Under the firm’s ownership model, Kneen, Shipley and a management group are minority owners in the limited liability corporation, while the five adviser-partners are the majority owners.  

“These advisers have worked in their communities and worked with clients for generations and decades,” Shipley said. “What they’re hoping is that they now have a value proposition and a service offering in the community that will allow them to continue to serve those same types of clients.”  

In reality, return on investments may not be as big a concern as life issues that a family wants to address because they have the means to do so, he said. For instance, a client may be undecided about where to build their next vacation home because they have elderly parents to first consider. Or another family might be interested in establishing a charitable endeavor, but their children aren’t yet old enough to manage their own assets and so must first address that issue. 

Kneen, a former billion-dollar investment adviser with UBS Financial who also co-founded an independent wealth advisory firm now known as IFAM Capital, has been recognized as one of the “Top 100 Consultants in America” by Barron’s. He is co-owner of Lumina Consulting in Denver and co-author of “Breaking Through the Wall: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Grow, Scale, and Monetize Your Business for Millions.” 
Private Wealth’s business model is providing comprehensive expertise for ultra-high-wealth individuals and families with local advisers under one roof, rather than referring clients to call a toll-free number for specialized advice or to have specialists “parachute in,” Kneen said. Neither Kneen nor Shipley is relocating to Iowa from Colorado. However, Kneen has a residence in Okoboji and Shipley in Des Moines and they are often in the state, Kneen said.

Shipley, the firm’s president, said that Private Wealth seeks to provide an option for ultra-high-wealth residents to stay in Iowa and Nebraska and continue to do business with local experts. The firm also has also established a continuity plan in which it aims to provide career opportunities for promising young professionals to enter the wealth management field in Iowa.

“What has been consistently happening with the big money-center banks is that they have been pulling resources out of what they consider secondary markets,” Shipley said. “We know that the concept of a full multidisciplinary team and a private bank is very powerful. However, it’s expensive, and many of the firms that had existed in Iowa have pulled out or they have really reduced coverage there in hopes of creating cost efficiency by covering the markets out of Chicago or Minneapolis instead.”

Private Wealth’s goal is to use its areas of expertise to surround clients with a circle of services to offer guidance in areas such as investment banking, estate and trust planning, managing tax planning and cash flow planning.

“We aim to serve our clients as we would our own families,” said Arens, who specializes in working with business owners on succession planning. “We will have a vested interest in their success. We will be a strategic partner who answers important questions. We will navigate any tough situations and reduce stress for clients, freeing them to turn their attention to the things that matter most to their family or institution.”

Kneen noted that the three permanent office locations are being established in federally designated Opportunity Zones: in downtown Cedar Rapids in the former Smulekoff’s Home Store building, 411 Sixth Ave. S.E., Suite 360; in West Des Moines in the Union 315 building, 315 Fifth St., Suite 360; and in Omaha at 2111 S. 67th St., Suite 320.

The firm’s website is www.privatewealth.com.