In honor of our two-year anniversary, here’s a look back at WGP’s history through the eyes of partners Laura Landergott and Darcy Ripple.
In the spring of 2019, Laura Landergott took off on a “Thelma and Louise”-style road trip with her sister-in-law — in search of great barbecue, great beer, and great music. Fortunately, their ramble ended not with a plunge off a clifftop, but with an idea for a business.
A New Beginning
Not long before the trip, Landergott left her position at Northwestern Mutual, where she had spent 11 years delivering marketing solutions for financial advisors. Wanting some time to reflect, Landergott turned off her phone and hit the road, intent on clearing her head. When she checked messages two weeks later, she was inundated with inquiries from former advisor clients, colleagues, and associates, many of whom asked some version of the same question: When are you going to start your own business?
“It was mind-blowing,” says Landergott. “It affirmed what I already knew; there was an absolute need in the financial services industry for experienced, concierge marketing support.”
Within a month, Landergott had Whole Growth Partners up and running. The first two clients came onboard before she even opened the doors.
A Clear Vision
Landergott wasn’t new to the world of entrepreneurship: she built a white glove housecleaning firm as a college student and had a graphic design business in her early 20s. For this next venture, she knew she didn’t want to go it alone. She named the company with a partner in mind, even though she wasn’t sure who it would be.
That summer, Darcy Ripple came to Milwaukee for a work trip, and the two got together for a beer. Landergott and Ripple had worked together for many years at Northwestern Mutual, growing to like and respect each other deeply. As Landergott explained her new company — one she hoped could create enough revenue to provide philanthropic grants to women returning to school or starting a business — she saw Ripple was moved.
“All of a sudden it hit me,” Landergott thought to herself. “This is my future business partner!”
Although she hadn’t set out to pitch Ripple on the idea, it happened organically.
Ripple soon left the corporate world to join Landergott as a principal at Whole Growth Partners. With decades of experience in the field, both women know that financial advisors are first and foremost CEOs, not marketers. In the field, it’s not uncommon to see a string of random marketing tactics unconnected to a larger strategy. To address this challenge, Whole Growth Partners provides a growing portfolio of customized marketing solutions for financial professionals to drive growth in their practices.
“In the early days, we spent countless hours pinpointing exactly what was needed in the marketplace and refining how we could best serve our clients according to those needs,” says Ripple. “We began with a vision. Now, we’ve evolved into fulfilling and expanding that vision.”
A Growing Company
The company’s growth has been exponential over the past two years as they’ve positioned themselves as the marketing firm of choice for those in the financial services industry.
In June 2020, the two principals hired their first employee, Dana Jankins, Program Director. Landergott says the decision was a “major step for our very young firm” one that the two owners arrived at with the help of their own financial advisor. Together they made revenue projections, evaluated expense ratios, and became students of running a financially profitable business. The experience affirmed what the women already knew: that thriving businesses are better off hiring sooner rather than later.
In May 2021, WGP hired another employee, Jessica Jacobsen, Marketing Operations. As the team continues to grow, they envision retaining their boutique service and expanding their capacity with 10-15 talented people working virtually across the country.
An Empowered Evolution
The women of Whole Growth Partners recently set the company’s core values, which include fun, creativity, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. That focus on fun ends up bringing powerful positive energy to clients.
“Every single day, we get to positively influence people and practices across the country, while staying true to the values that make our team and business uniquely impactful in this industry,” says Ripple.
During the many years Landergott and Ripple worked in financial services, they were often the only women in leadership roles. That experience sparked their desire to empower exceptional women in the industry. That mission has become a core value of Whole Growth Partners, too.
“We’re smart, hardworking women, and we know how to get the job done,” says Landergott.