Mike Dawkins serves as Market President in Atlanta, Georgia, at BNY Mellon Wealth Management where he oversees all aspects of the Wealth Management business in the Atlanta market, including advisory, investments, fiduciary, private banking and marketing.
He brings nearly 30 years of fiduciary and investment wealth management experience to this role, including more than 10 years with BNY Mellon Wealth Management, having previously served as Senior Director and Team Leader. Before that, he was employed as a Senior Portfolio Manager with BlackRock and Merrill Lynch Private Investors leading their Atlanta market practice, along with specializing in high-net-worth clients and institutions.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Florida State University. He is a CFA Charterholder, CFP® professional, and a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society Atlanta (formerly The Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professionals). He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Elizabeth Baptist Church. He actively volunteers with the Atlanta Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and has volunteered with Literacy Action and on multiple Habitat for Humanity builds. He previously served as Southeast Region Chair of the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Diversity and Inclusion Council, Southeast Region Co-Chair of the BNY Wealth Management Mentoring Program, and has been a member of the Shepherd Center Advisory Board.
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Mike’s background and his day-to-day role leading BNY Mellon Wealth Management’s Atlanta market
- BNY Mellon Wealth Management’s business model and main focus for clients in the Atlanta region
- The trajectory of BNY Mellon Wealth Management’s business in the Atlanta Market
- How Mike is building his team in Atlanta and deploying new offerings and services to meet clients’ evolving needs to responsibly manage and build wealth
- What advice Mike is giving to clients interested in growing a business or investing in new startups / ventures in the current market environment
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get into it, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Mike Dawkins with BNY Mellon Wealth Management. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Dawkins: Thank you. Welcome, Lee. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Lee Kantor: Well, I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to be and why. Tell us a little bit about your work. How are you serving folks?
Mike Dawkins: Sure. Absolutely. So, first of all, again, I want to thank you again for this opportunity, Lee. So we work with high net worth individuals and families and some institutions like endowments and foundations. But we really are in a unique position because we’re able to kind of partner with them to really help them achieve successfully their aspirations. So it’s a really kind of really fulfilling opportunity that we have with those clients and prospects.
Lee Kantor: So what’s your backstory? How did you get involved in this line of work?
Mike Dawkins: Sure. It actually started when I was relatively younger in high school, taking an economics class at the time. I’m going to date myself a little bit, but at the time it was kind of in the late eighties and there was a gentleman named Michael Milken who was working on Wall Street at the time for a junk bond firm. And I think I saw that he’d made like a significant bonus one year for bonus. And I figured, like, hey, that would be a pretty neat thing to be able to do. And then from there, just kind of through my coursework and also opportunities and working really developed a genuine passion for wealth management and investment management and helping individuals and families.
Lee Kantor: Now, what led you to be in why? Why did you take that route as opposed to maybe a boutique firm or any of the other firms out there?
Mike Dawkins: Right. So I started I’ve been in the business about 30 plus years, so I’ve been in multiple platforms. And I started out with a large bank trust company in Florida and then moved to a broker dealer and also an investment manager. And really the reason that I came to being in wealth management in 2010 was the platform. It’s a fiduciary platform, and I think it also allows us to focus directly on clients and their advisors versus some of the other platforms. And I just like the way it was really set up where we could focus on serving the clients and also collaborating with them and their advisors.
Lee Kantor: Now where do you see the opportunity in leading Atlanta’s market? Like where, where do you see maybe opportunity that hasn’t been leveraged just yet?
Mike Dawkins: So I think Atlanta is a unique market because it’s a very dynamic market. Clearly, there’s a lot of individuals, there’s a lot of corporations that are coming here. So there’s a lot of wealth that’s being created. I think it’s also a very dynamic environment. There’s a lot of colleges and universities. So I think there’s a lot of whether it’s health care or technology, I think there’s a lot of interest in the area. The relative cost of living, I think is very competitive. So we’re seeing a lot of those opportunities, whether it’s entertainment, whether again, it’s technology or other industries. I think Atlanta is a very good market for that. And actually in our market, we service not only Atlanta, but we service Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. But most of our business is in and around Atlanta, and we’ve just seen a lot of growth in that. And with that kind of a lot of needs for individuals, for whether it’s planning for retirement, whether it’s planning for a deal that’s going to be transpiring, or just building out their advisor team with somebody that can help them out.
Lee Kantor: Now, as part of the role of an advisor on your team, somebody that is just worried about the wealth of the client or would they be involved in maybe connecting them with somebody that might help them expand their business or exit if they were ready to exit? Like where does kind of the lines drawn when it comes to the advisors on your team? You know, because it seems like one of your clients might have a variety of needs that involve trusted advisors that hopefully would be able to work together.
Mike Dawkins: No, absolutely. I think where we see a lot of opportunities, Lee is with our platform. It’s a fiduciary platform, but we definitely welcome collaboration with clients, prospective clients and their advisor team. I think that’s one of the strengths and the benefits. Usually that can be any number of things and as I said before, we’re fortunate enough to be able to work with clients and prospective clients on their aspirations. So that could be financial, that could be personal or family or charitable or philanthropic. So really across a number of different needs, whether it’s building out of business, whether it is kind of transferring wealth, whether it is making sure that things are being managed tax efficiently. We have a lot of resources within our firm, but we also work very well collaboratively with the other advisors of those entities. Joules have. So it really runs the gamut from if an individual just wants to focus primarily on preserving wealth or building wealth, we can definitely do that. However, we feel that our prospective clients are best served when we really take a holistic approach and look across. There’s really about five key drivers that we really want to focus on in managing their overall wealth picture and not just investments, but those are invest, spend, borrow, manage and protect. So we really have team members that are able to address all of those needs in addition to working with their other advisors.
Lee Kantor: Now, is your ideal client somebody that has already accumulated wealth? Are they growing wealth? Are they, you know, do they have an advisor right now that you hope they switch to you like like where are they at in their journey?
Mike Dawkins: So for a lot of our opportunities, we do see individuals because our minimum typically starts at around $10 Million in total client balances. But our sweet spot is really about 25 to 250 million. And we definitely have opportunities that scale higher than that. But a lot of those individuals, they build out a successful business, they build out a successful balance sheet. So they have a team in place that’s helped them do that. We come along and partner with them to identify again what their long term goals and objectives are and work with those current advisors that they currently have on their team. Or we can make recommendations with partners that we have worked with mutual clients on. But it really is again, it could be financial, it could be from a planning and what’s the most effective way to transfer wealth or they have an interest and the community or philanthropic endeavor. So we really not only just focus on investments, but really kind of talk about what is the overall picture and what they’re trying to accomplish and really develop team members that can work with them along those lines.
Lee Kantor: Speaking of team members, what is it right now? Are you do you have your team already for the Atlanta in the region or is this something that you are looking to hire?
Mike Dawkins: So solely we’re always looking to because we are growing our practice. We’ve been fortunate that the Atlanta market is a very successful market, so we’re always looking for great team members to add. We’ve got about 45 current team members and typically the roles run from individuals who originate business opportunities to most of the team members are client service. So whether that is a portfolio manager, whether that is a portfolio officer who works along with a portfolio manager, private bankers, fiduciary or planning specialists. So it really has been a blessing for us to have the growth that we’ve had because we’ve been able to add a lot of great new team members to help service the clients, because as you can imagine, in looking across all the five facets of what really is going to be a key driver of their wealth, it takes multiple team members and we have to have a lot of bandwidth to engage with all of their advisors. So it’s a very kind of custom approach and we’re always looking for great team members to add to that.
Lee Kantor: Now when you’re onboarding a new client, what does that look like and what would like the first year of interacting with you and your team look like for a new client?
Mike Dawkins: Right. So the onboarding process is, you know, the goal of it is to make it as seamless and transparent as possible. So what we usually do is when we are engaging with a prospective client, we will ask questions about again, what their long term goals and objectives are. We’ll find out who their current advisors are. We will map out a strategy or a plan for making a transition. It typically is a turnkey process. I believe that’s where the different team members come in, the team members who focus on originating business opportunities. That’s essentially what they primarily do. And then like the portfolio managers, the private bankers, their main goal is to really collaborate with other partners and service those. So the onboarding process involves all the team members and each one has different roles. Typically it’s the the business development individuals that are making sure that the transition, all the assets come over smoothly will engage the fiduciary or the trust in estate planning, individuals that there’s trusts involved. But really all the team members are involved in making a successful transition. And then during that first year, we typically see three or four client meetings. It can be more or less depending on the specific client. It’s really kind of dictated. What they want and the relationship. We really let our clients define success, not us. So it is really a very kind of tailored and custom approach to what they want to see. But there’s a lot of contact usually in that first year and in the second year, and then usually it drops off to maybe same semiannual or annual meetings. But throughout the process, their advisors and our team are in constant communication with what’s happening now.
Lee Kantor: What percentage of the work of your team is with a client that maybe just exited their business?
Mike Dawkins: That’s a significant amount because again, through this market and in Atlanta, there’s a lot of opportunities, you know, kind of first generation wealth or opportunities for liquidity events. So we do see a significant number of our opportunities that are coming from business owners and entrepreneurs. They tend to not only maybe have a successful practice, but they also continue to go back in or reinvest in that and continue to have other opportunities. So we do see a significant number of our opportunities stem from business owners and entrepreneurs. They continue to want to have a foundational piece and manage their wealth, but also make sure that it’s integrated with their trust and estate planning and also with wealth transfer strategies to ensure that their legacy continues on.
Lee Kantor: But I would imagine that they’d probably be best served if they are going to partner with you moving forward, It would probably be better to get you involved prior to that exit, right, That liquidity moment.
Mike Dawkins: That is absolutely right. Lee So yeah, there’s a lot of there’s a lot more opportunities for pre transaction planning before those deals get signed. So again, coming to us and those early stages allows us the most flexibility as far as structures, as far as being able to do it at tax efficiently after the transaction. There’s still some opportunities, but definitely you get the most benefit from doing that prior to a transaction. So I’d say definitely if somebody is close to that or even considering selling their business, we have a lot of resources to help navigate that.
Lee Kantor: So even though their wealth might be tied up in their business, you’d still be willing to talk to a person, you know, a few years prior in order to make that transition as seamless and as tax efficient as possible.
Mike Dawkins: We do. And I think if you look at the longevity of our organization. So we were founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton. So if you just kind of think of all of the market environments that have happened since then, whether it’s high inflation, political kind of turmoil, volatility in the markets, you know, our organization and our advisors have been working and advising clients successfully and helping them navigate this for really 230 plus years. So in all those stages, again, some may have already had a liquidity event, but we really welcome a discussion and an opportunity if they are just kind of forming that or starting that out.
Lee Kantor: And do you have any advice you would give folks right now that are in order to take advantage of the current situation we’re in now regarding growing a business or maybe investing in startups? Is there something in Atlanta or the region that you think is an opportunity?
Mike Dawkins: I would say, Lee, that I think they should make sure that their team that they are utilizing or if they are considering partnering with a team, just make sure that team is looking at things comprehensively and also not just looking at the risks, but also looking at opportunities that can stem from it. I know like several years ago when interest rates were very low, that was a challenge for some parts of the portfolio. If you are buying like municipal bonds or taxable bonds, But that also created opportunities to borrow at a low cost to maybe expand operations. Many of our clients have utilized their portfolios to start like a family bank concept, where they are actually becoming the bank for opportunities for business ventures. So I would say make sure that with volatility, with risk, there also comes opportunity. So just kind of make sure that you’re advising your team or looking at not only the assets but the balance sheet and also taking a very long term and strategic approach to business opportunities. And again, the efficient transfer of wealth.
Lee Kantor: Well, if somebody wants to learn more, have more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team or maybe is interested in a career shift to you guys, what is the website? What is the best way to connect?
Mike Dawkins: Sure. So the website is B and Y mellon wealth. From there you can go to the about us and it shows the locations not only for Atlanta but around the country. And Lee, I’m going to also give you my direct information or the listeners can contact me directly. The email is michael m i c h a l period Dawkins a k i s at B and y mellon. And my number is 6785382019.
Lee Kantor: Well, Mike, congratulations on all the success and thank you so much for sharing your story today.
Mike Dawkins: Well, thank you, Lee, and I definitely appreciate the opportunity and I enjoy your program.
Lee Kantor: All right. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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