How do you maintain a small firm feel at a $20 billion RIA? Eric Kittner says the answer lies in advisors’ autonomy and entrepreneurship.

Kittner, managing director of Clayton, Mo.-based Moneta, is charged with continuing the firm’s growth while making sure it doesn’t lose the culture that he credits for its success. Part of Kittner’s challenge is that Moneta has become a beast of an advisory firm in the St. Louis region with 300 employees and a large, diverse client base.

Moneta’s growth is unusual—it has made few acquisitions, and steers clear of investors from the private equity and large-firm universe, yet it doubled in AUM, number of clients, employees and revenue over the last decade.

“We grew by going back to our roots from our founding partners, recruiting talented, entrepreneurial individuals from other careers, and allowing them the independence to build a practice,” says Kittner.

Also unusual is the age of Moneta’s management—the average age of the firm’s board of managers is 49. Kittner himself is 40 years old. While 13% of the overall staff of the firm identify themselves as baby boomers, 29% call themselves Generation X and 58% millennials.

“We believe as an organization that we are uniquely qualified to train NextGen leaders, so it’s to our advantage to hire leaders at the start of their career,” Kittner says. “Our 30 years of institutional knowledge operating as an RIA with advisors all working directly with clients out of a single location is an anomaly. Our young leaders in training have access to that unique resource firsthand.”

Moneta has also started to emphasize gender diversity among its ranks—while only 6% of Moneta’s partners are women, 46% of its advisors identify as female and 57% of its overall staff.

About Moneta

In some ways, Moneta resembles a coalition of independent teams of advisors more than it looks like a typical mega-RIA. It is owned by a group of 37 equity partners operating on 22 teams of advisors, which the firm labels “client service teams.” All client service teams are committed to the fee-only RIA model, which Moneta adopted in 1989.

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