Winners of WealthTech: Angela Pecoraro
This is the eighth article in our Winners of WealthTech series, where I interview people who have made their mark in wealth management technology with a track record of innovation and success.
My previous interviews have been wildly popular, so there will be no stopping this series in 2018! Check out the previous interviews with Eric Clarke, CEO of Orion Advisor, Bill Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing, Lori Hardwick, President of Advisor Innovation Labs, Cheryl Nash, President of Fiserv Investment Services, Stuart DePina, President of Envestnet | Tamarac, Bill Crager, President of Envestnet and Aaron Klein, CEO of Riskalyze.
I am pleased to present this interview with the CEO of financial technology firm Advicent, Angela Pecoraro. Advicent, based in Wisconsin, promoted Pecoraro to CEO last April from her previous position as president and chief operating officer.
In her role as company president, Pecoraro was responsible for spearheading global strategy for Advicent’s client engagement and client experience programs. Advicent is primarily known for their financial planning software, NaviPlan, which had been focused on the HNW/UHNW segment, but has since been expanded to support clients with a wide variety of planning needs.
Pecoraro is the first woman to hold the CEO post in the company’s history. The firm changed its name from Zywave Financial Solutions to Advicent in 2014.
Could you give me an overview of what brought you to Advicent?
I have celebrated about 16 years in financial services technology. The company that I worked for purchased EISI several years ago. I had been with that business for a long time and I had started to expand my role upon that acquisition to serve additional areas in that business to include what is known today as Advicent.
What caused you to take this role as opposed to going to another company?
I have grown up with technology, I started at that company as a front-line customer support representative as well as a product trainer and I have an insatiable interest in business and learning. Throughout my career I have taken any and all opportunities to learn; the business, the technology, the customer, and the market. I find it to be very interesting, very fun and fulfilling. That allowed me the opportunity to serve over different areas of management and grow in my responsibilities as the company continued to grow. As I became more advanced in my career and more senior in my role, I continued to take on those responsibilities and serve the company at a wider and higher level, transitioning more into a strategic leadership position.
A few years ago I was identified as a succession plan for Advicent’s CEO, and took an opportunity at a senior executive level to span many different areas of the business. Prior to becoming the CEO, I served as the chief operating officer, and almost every year or 18 months the definition of that role evolved. Wherever the business needed leadership, or transformation, or a new lens, I had the opportunity to lead those functions. Over that four year period I served as our leader over project management, sales, marketing, and professional services support. It evolved depending on the needs of the business. In April 2017, it made sense for me to achieve the objective that was set forth for me in the career planning model that we had, and I was named CEO.
What advice do you have for COO’s looking to get into a CEO role?
I think it goes back to the learning aspect. No matter what role you’re serving in an organization or what your title is, there is still more to learn. Learning and growing is continuous, especially in the Fintech or Wealthtech space. It is very dynamic right now. There are so many different technology providers, and so much happening within the markets that we serve that there should be no shortage of opportunity to learn and grow. The more value you can provide to the organization by having a broad spectrum of knowledge, the better suited you are to serve the business as a whole. Every business is different; the size, the focus of the chief operating officer, it varies. I would encourage anyone in a senior position to define what those roles need to be, recommend how they should evolve that role to the business, not via path of participant in the role. Oftentimes I dismiss my title altogether and I think more about the business. I often joke that you can call me whatever you want, but this is where we’re going to provide the most value to the business.
-- To read the full interview, click here.