The word ‘wealth’ – derived from the Old English word ‘wela’, is defined by modern dictionaries as the sum total of all tangible assets owned by a person, community or country. Specific people, organizations, and nations are deemed wealthy when they are able to accumulate many valuable resources or goods.
Contrary to popular belief, significant personal wealth comes with significant complexity. With countless investment choices, the intricacies of estate planning, changing regulations, the timing of compensation and purchases, and the tax ramifications of nearly every decision, managing great wealth is a mammoth of a responsibility. This has given birth to a new niche in the finance industry – wealth management.
For private wealth management firm Waldron, it is all about simplifying the financial complexities in their clients’ lives so that they can be free from the stress and anxiety of managing the complex aspects of their wealth, and focus on enjoying their lives instead. Since its inception in 1995, Waldron has gained recognition over the years, providing sound asset management advice to a select group of high-net-worth individuals, families, and family offices on how to simplify the complexities of their wealth and make the most of it for the generations ahead.
Renee Elizabeth Mendelssohn, Senior Wealth Advisor with Waldron states, “our approach is to take a deep dive into the entirety of each client’s financial life, identifying and mitigating risks, leveraging opportunities and integrating all of the components into one coordinated strategy.”
When John Waldron founded Waldron Private Wealth in 1995, he had a vision – to change the way wealth management services were delivered. Drawing from his financial planning experience from working with various major accounting firms over the years, John built his firm specifically to serve the unique needs of business owners, families of multigenerational wealth as well as high-flying corporate executives. “Since then, everything we do has surrounded that vision – from our service offerings, to the way we structure our teams, to the technology we’ve adopted over time,” states Renee.
Driven by a team of some of the best finance confidants in the country, the Waldron team approaches their objectives as a collective, often feeding off each other’s experience to provide the most well-rounded client experience. “We truly live and breathe by the team atmosphere here at Waldron,” says Renee. Long story short, with the backing of this team, rest assured, your wealth management hassles are a thing of the past.
Today, the firm employs more than 50 full-time team members and the office has recently moved into a brand-new building to accommodate future growth. The organization prides itself on its high office morale, with employees enjoying fully funded healthcare plans, flexible schedules, including 3+ weeks of PTO and paternal/maternal leave options, as well as an internal mentoring program, opportunities for community outreach and a company gym.
“It can be challenging starting your career in a historically male-dominated career, but just know there are women who have succeeded in line before you.”
Redefining wealth management
Over the years, Waldron Private Wealth has single-handedly been responsible for taking wealth planning to greater heights. By looking beyond their clients’ balance sheets and getting a 360-degree view of the entire picture – from their goals, the dynamics of individual families, what type of people they are socially and professionally – the Waldron advisers acquire a comprehensive idea of the financial structure of their clients.
Providing astute management of each aspect of wealth also requires expertise in many disciplines, such as income-tax planning, lifestyle services, trust services, investments planning and more. To unravel the many complexities of significant wealth, every Waldron client team has, at minimum, a wealth advisor, an investment specialist, a planning specialist and a dedicated client service specialist.
Working together to unearth the effects of every financial decision across the spectrum, the financial advisors at Waldron Private Wealth never hesitate to call on the expertise of additional team members if required. Additionally, Renee states, “we maintain a low client to staff ratio, currently better than 5:1 which allows us to provide individualized advice and tailor our services to the needs of each family.”
Renee’s ‘high net-worth’ journey
Renee started her professional journey as an independent attorney after her Juris Doctor Degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Before Waldron, she was a Vice President for Citigroup Trust and for Comerica Bank where she demonstrated her expertise in various financial disciplines such as securities, asset management, estate planning, mutual funds and more.
Renee joined Waldron in 2021 and despite more than 20 years of relationship management experience before this, at Waldron she feels that she has finally found her place. “I’ve worked for a number of wealth management firms throughout my career,” says Renee, “but Waldron is very unique. The firm’s robust service offerings and tailored approach to wealth management far exceeds expectations in our industry. I feel very privileged to be part of the team.”
At Waldron Renee’s expertise excels in providing advisory services for high-net worth and ultra-high-net worth individuals and families. She works closely with the planning and investment teams to develop customized and comprehensive strategies for her clients, with a focus on trust and estate planning, income tax planning, succession planning for business owners, and family governance for multi-generational families.
Additionally, Renee has been a member of the Michigan Bar Association since 2004 and maintains her current status as an attorney. She resides in Flat Rock, Michigan, with her special-needs grandson of whom she is Guardian for, along with her four small dogs. She is an active member in promoting various Women’s organizations, autism charities and is an animal advocate. She enjoys traveling, eating great food, going to the theatre or sporting events, and most of all, spending time with family
Closing the gender gap
Today, although a revered figure in the finance industry, Renee still recalls dealing with her fair share of prejudices simply because of her gender. Like many other industries, women in finance are often not deemed equal to men, with wealth management often being termed as a “man’s job”. Renee however has taken the hammer to the glass ceiling. Not only has she set new benchmarks in the asset management field but she has also created new opportunities for young women to pursue their own careers in this industry.
At Waldron, Renee also engages with the mentorship program which has been curated to encourage the development of the next generation of fiduciary executives, where she maintains a sharp focus on closing the gender gap. Additionally, outside Waldron, Mendelssohn is involved with a variety of women’s organizations including Michigan Women Forward and Power of 100. She also holds a post on the Executive Committee of Michigan Inforum where she works at accelerating career opportunities for women.
Addressing the scarcity of women in her industry, Renee states, “I believe younger women lack role models in the financial society that exist in other professions. They need strong trailblazers to forge a path. Thankfully, I’m seeing more and more young women getting involved with our organization, which is both refreshing and inspiring.” Renee shares that she herself found a role-model in Sallie Krawcheck. Termed as the “the most powerful woman on Wall Street”, Sallie’s contribution to the finance world as well as her strong leadership qualities are something that Mendelssohn has always admired.
The ever-evolving team of financial experts at Waldron, continue to take wealth management to new heights. “People are more than just the sum of their assets,” says Renee, “and I think once that mentality is more readily adopted by the financial planning world, we’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead.” As for Waldron, the company continues its expansion and its footprint, preparing the next generation of fiduciary advisors, diving deeper into technology and integrating innovative asset management techniques to their portfolio.
As for Renee, she has proven to be one of Waldron’s most valuable assets, providing wise finance advice to her client base while working towards closing the gender gap in the finance management industry. To young ambitious women in the wealth management industry, Renee says, “It can be challenging starting your career in a historically male-dominated career, but just know there are women who have succeeded in line before you. It’s important to find a female mentor who can help guide you along the way and help you find your footing.”