11 APRIL 2024



Executive Summary

Founded in July 2023 after transitioning from a large, nationally recognized broker/dealer, Stonebrook Private ("Stonebrook") is an independent fee-only advisory firm led by Todd and Spencer Knickerbocker with assets under management (AUM) totaling $675 million. The firm has a comprehensive approach to wealth management, taking into account investment, tax, and estate considerations in its decision-making. Stonebrook is committed to providing excellent client service, a data-driven and evidence-based investment approach and incorporating the latest technology for the benefit of its clients.

Stonebrook learned about VRGL through a podcast a few years ago, finding the technology and idea intriguing. After transitioning to independence, they explored VRGL as a solution to address a challenge within their team—the time-consuming process of gathering client statements and understanding their holdings. Spencer highlights the significant challenge they faced, stating, "A big pain point for our team was extracting [data from] client statements and understanding their holdings, especially when dealing with 8 or more statements, each with 40 or more holdings. This could take hours and we risked losing the client's interest due to delayed responses and insufficient insight into their financial details." Recognizing the need for a more efficient solution, Stonebrook selected VRGL to streamline their workflow.

Since implementing VRGL, Stonebrook has accelerated their client acquisition process, securing a $1.6 million account in just two meetings. "VRGL is just easy to use. With a simple drag-and-drop of statements, you can obtain all the necessary data you need within minutes to a maximum of 24 hours. In short, VRGL accelerates the sales process", says Spencer. Overall, Stonebrook has experienced a 50% decrease in the time from initial outreach to client onboarding, as well as significant time and resource savings throughout their operations.

A Two-Meeting Client Close

Leveraging VRGL throughout the process, Stonebrook successfully acquired a new client with $1.6 million in advisable assets. Referred by an existing client, the husband and wife attended an initial meeting to learn more about Stonebrook's services, fee structure, and overall approach. Pleased with the introductory call, they proceeded to the next step: sending statements for upload to VRGL. Within a week, a second meeting was arranged, where VRGL helped Stonebrook identify the prospect's varied accounts, revealing a lack of structure or investment plan by their current advisor.

"Anytime we evaluate a new piece of technology, it has to make us more efficient and help us get to 'yes' quicker, and VRGL helps us do that." - Spencer Knickerbocker

In terms of fees, VRGL uncovered that the current portfolio incurred fees of 1.5%, split between an advisory fee for one account and high commissionable accounts. Stonebrook's proposed portfolio, guided by VRGL's analysis, came in just under 1%, showcasing an estimated 30% reduction in total costs. The entire process, from the initial call to close, required two meetings, demonstrating VRGL's role in Stonebrook's ability to quickly convert the client.

Time and Resource Efficiency Gains

The implementation of VRGL has brought significant efficiencies to Stonebrook's operations, particularly in terms of time and resource management. Todd highlights the impact, stating, "No question, the time savings from initial client outreach to client onboarding has gone down by 50% because the conversations are more informative, and we have more data to share in a quicker fashion. I think it's just easier for Spencer and I, we don't have to burden our team or associates to do as much of the work. So that's saved a lot of time and money right there." Additionally, Todd emphasizes that the firm's core responsibility of earning client trust remains, and VRGL serves as a valuable tool in helping build trust by showcasing Stonebrook's capacity, capabilities, and portfolio approach benefits.

Spencer mentions the significance of VRGL as a client's first interaction with the firm's technology, stating, "For a lot of clients, VRGL is the first piece of technology that they interact with at our firm, depending on what we show them whether it's the portal itself or output." This initial impression, fueled by the insights provided through VRGL, serves as a personalized and impactful deliverable, demonstrating Stonebrook's value.

Return on Investment

Stonebrook's perspective on the return on investment in VRGL is positive, as Todd expressed the annual cost became evident by securing just $1 million or $1.5 million accounts. He asserts, "From a valuation standpoint, I can say yes, we have absolutely achieved a return on investment in the platform already, and we still have 10 months remaining on our 12-month contract."

Spencer adds to that by recalling the cost savings achieved by avoiding the need to hire additional staff, thanks to VRGL's efficiency in freeing up support staff capacity. Spencer concludes by highlighting VRGL's role in closing new business and optimizing support staff focus, stating, "VRGL has helped us close new business as well as redirect our support staff's capacity away from doing things they don't need to be doing to things they are more needed for." This dual perspective from Todd and Spencer signifies the multifaceted benefits Stonebrook has derived from their investment in VRGL.

If you are interested in learning more about how VRGL can help your firm streamline the investment proposal process and accelerate client acquisitions, please reach out to or connect with us by visiting

Todd Knickerbocker

Managing Partner

Todd got his start in the industry right out of college when he founded his practice in Northville in 1989. Growing his business from the ground up, Todd knocked on the doors of those in the community, building trust one conversation at a time. Over thirty years later, he leads the Stonebrook Private team - now serving a few hundred individuals and families with over $675mm in managed assets. While many things have changed since 1989, acting in the best interest of his clients has always been top of mind.

Spencer Knickerbocker

Partner & CIO

Spencer's interest in financial planning and investments dates back to his childhood as he watched his father build his practice over the years. He found it fascinating how an investment could grow far beyond its initial contribution, which was really his first introduction to compound interest. After graduating from Northville High School, Spencer went on to study finance at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. From there, he moved to New York City and worked for a private asset manager for three years. It was at this job that Spencer was motivated to attain the advanced credentials he holds today. Returning home to Michigan in 2019, he joined the predecessor of Stonebrook Private, providing investment management and financial planning advice.



As a fee-only, independent advisory firm, Stonebrook Private helps guide clients through the complexities of managing wealth. Stonebrook's approach encompasses not just investments, but critical planning areas such as tax and estate. Today, Stonebrook Private is privileged to advise on over $675mm of assets on behalf of clients.