Rising Star: Marina Shtyrkov, Associate Director, Wealth Management, Cerulli Associates

In the perspective of RIA Intel’s Inaugural RIA Awards in SeptemberRIA Intel will post Q&As and other short articles highlighting this year’s accomplishments nominees and rising stars.

In 2015, a college graduate with an English degree joined Cerulli Associates, a Boston-based research and advisory firm specializing in asset management and distribution trends founded in 1992. Today, Marina Shtyrkov, 29, associate director of the firm’s wealth management practice, is among the rising stars named at the inaugural RIA Intel Awards. Here, she shares some highlights from her trip, edited for length and clarity.

What are your origins?

I was an English student. I never thought of myself as a numbers person. But the more I learned about data analysis and survey design, the clearer it became how similar it was to what I studied. Literature analysis is not so different from data analysis. It all depends on the story you end up creating.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I started in this role straight out of college and found plenty of opportunities for growth. It’s so rewarding to manage a team and help others have this experience. Coaching, training and mentoring the young analysts has been extremely rewarding. Seeing one of my reports recently take center stage to present findings has been very gratifying to watch.

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What is the biggest trend you see in wealth management?

Differentiation. RIAs know that soon, being independent and paying will no longer be differentiators. There is a push to integrate more financial planning into all types of businesses and to make advice more holistic. With the blurring of the channel lines, it becomes more difficult to differentiate.

Anticipating RIAs ask themselves, what else can I do to serve my clients? How do I position myself in the broader landscape of the industry? What new frontiers of differentiation can set me apart? To address this, many are adding digital advice platforms, as well as trust, concierge and lifestyle services, for a few examples.

Do you have a subject of passion?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI. We didn’t cover this when I started in Cerulli, and it seemed like a shortcoming to me. One of my first opportunities was to develop a market sizing model to determine how many financial advisors across channels are women. When we saw that women made up about 18% of advisors, that’s when I realized how powerful our research could be. Just knowing that there are few women is valid, but seeing the number, 18%, is extremely compelling. We also conducted qualitative interviews with female counselors as part of this research, and we updated it with data on race and ethnicity in 2020. This has been one of my most exciting projects and the most rewarding.

What is it about you that most people don’t know?

I danced at the Boston Ballet School for 10 years. I still dance when I can. Ballet is an interesting combination of creativity. It has the artistic nature of a dance form, but also structure and theory, and that combination has always interested me. I am process oriented. Data analysis is similar to ballet in this way. With data analysis, there is a process and you cannot skip steps. The steps go in a certain order for a reason. If you follow these steps, it all comes together. Same with ballet.

The inaugural RIA Intel Awards are a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms and industry leaders. The results will be announced at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Metropolitan Club in New York on September 14, 2022.

Click here to sponsor or register for the event.

Ron Geraci is a Senior Writer at the Institutional Investor Thought Leadership Studio and is based in New York.

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