When Jamie Hopkins showed up for his new job today at Bryn Mawr Trust’s private wealth group in Pennsylvania, he opened a new chapter in an influential career that has already left a significant mark on the advisory business.

Over the last four years, not only did he play a key role at Carson Group, based in Omaha, Neb., as it grew from a 75-person firm and $6.5 billion in assets under management to a 400-person enterprise with more than $30 billion in AUM,but he also founded the FinServ Foundation, a national mentorship program designed to increase access and diversity in financial services and for which Carson will remain board president.  

“It’s been a blast,” he said Friday as he wrapped up his time at Carson with a trip to Phoenix. “I went to Carson because I thought that it was going to really take off. Ron Carson had a vision of where he wanted to be. He always talked about having a 100-year-old firm, and he’s now built the structure, team and organization that can be a 100-year-old firm.”

As hard as the decision was to leave a place that Hopkins said he loves and believes in, he said it’s the right decision for him and his family, who live in Villanova, Pa. His three children feel his absence when he travels more, and he feels their absence, too, when he’s gone, he said.

“I’ve been used to the road, but as my kids have aged, that’s been a bigger thing,” he said. “I’ve got a seven-year-old, a five-year-old and a four-year old, and that’s a very different life than it was when I had one 2-year-old. I want to be around when they’re playing soccer and not in Phoenix. I want to be in my community.”

In Villanova, Hopkins said he lives about a mile and a half from the original Bryn Mawr Trust Bank, founded in 1889. He’s also a half mile from his youngest son’s daycare, and his wife, who is an attorney, is just a town away from her firm.

The proximity and access to family life was a magnetic pull Hopkins said he couldn’t fight.

“My single favorite thing in the world is when my kids fall asleep on the couch, and I carry them up to bed. My knees are hurting nowadays, and I don’t even know how much longer I’ll be able to do it, but that’s my favorite thing in the world,” he said. “Every time I'm away, I miss a night of beinging able to carry my son Gavin up. He just curls up into that little ball on me. And I’m just, like, ‘This is the best,’ and it is. Nothing else that can replace that.”

Hopkins said that while he will bring everything thing he learned at Carson—from technology to on-boarding to integration—to his new position as senior vice president, director of private wealth management at Bryn Mawr Trust, the scope of his work will be quite different.

Although Bryn Mawr Trust Wealth Management, which itself was bought by the regional WSFS Bank in early 2022, has completed some acquisitions, organic growth is more of the mandate, especially in the next year, Hopkins said.

“There was the acquisition, there was a transition. They moved teams around. The goal is to take all these pieces now, and get eveybody going in the same direction,” he said. “I really want to focus on development of people, building up teams, building up talent. It is where a lot of my passion lies. And I want to see the next five versions of Jamie Hopkins that are all better than me. I will focus a lot in the next year on saying, ‘Hey, who's my super-talent on the team? And how do I get them to have a voice out there if they don't today, how do I get them to be thought leaders?’”

Also ported over from his Carson experience will be Hopkins’ interest in useful technology that improves the client experience. For example, he said he’s a big fan of Income Lab, a retirement income tool, which was just approved for Carson’s RIA group in the middle of September.

“We'll take a look at that here, too, and see if it fits. We'll look at things like Wealth.com and whether we bring in a digital estate offering,” he said. “But I have to do that in a smart way. I can't just overwhelm the team because I'm really excited about something. What are our clients asking for? But bringing in some great new tech is going to be super important.”

And if a perfect match requires a meet-cute, then Hopkins and Bryn Mawr Wealth are well on their way to budding romance.

About a year ago, Bryn Mawr had hired a search firm to find a candidate to fill the position of head of wealth, and the search firm had found Hopkins. However, the first time they talked, Hopkins said he wasn’t ready to leave Carson, though the offer was much appreciated, and connected them to different person as a potential hire, he said.

“But they ended up following up with me and meeting with me again, and then I just started to see the opportunity there,” he said, adding his meetings with Roger Levenson, CEO, and Arthur Bacci, chief wealth officer at WSFS Financial Corporation, which is Bryn Mawr Trust’s parent company, ended up resonating strongly with him.

“I really love those guys and I saw their vision to really make Bryn Mawr Trust the premier wealth offering in the Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware area,” he said. “To me that was really appealing because this is where my kids are going to grow up, it's where I put down roots. I went to school here, I've worked here, I clerked in the appellate division here. My wife's parents and my parents live in the area. And leading a team here that has that impact in our community is really exciting.”

When Hopkins joined Carson in 2019 as head of retirement research, the terms of his employment included flexibility in his function at the firm. Within six months of joining, he took over Carson Coaching, an arm that provides structured coaching to financial advisors. Then he added M&A to his mandate. In 2021 he was promoted to managing partner of wealth solutions to run the firm’s registered investment advisor, then launched a handful of joint ventures and helped the Carson Group planning team build an insurance division, a trust division and a retirement division.

“I helped bring in the largest M&A deal we’ve ever done. In fact, most of what I've spent my time doing for five years has been leading teams and building offerings, which is interesting in that your brand can sometimes take on a different thing,” he said. “I'd say internally that's now my brand. But in the industry, a lot of people still know me as the retirement income guy. That’s probably less than 5% of what I spend my time on now.”

Over his tenure, and inarguably because of it, Carson went from a vision to a company that—when structure, organization and strategic planning was added to the mix—became an enterprise, he said, and is now positioned and staffed to continue in wealth management for clients and support to other RIAs with technology, investment strategies, compliance, M&A and succession planning and lead generation.

“The really beautiful thing about Carson is that it is a great offering for the RIAs out there in the world,” he said. “I don’t know that emotionally I could have left a year ago. Today I think I can because I look at my teams, and everybody running every team I worked on there is better than when I ran those teams. It gives you that peace when the people who came behind you now are all better than you were. That’s awesome.”