Growing up quickly draws attention to FormulaFolio


Jason Wenk acknowledges the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies isn’t the best gauge of business, but he’s pretty happy with FormulaFolio Investments LLC’s 1,758 percent growth rate.

Wenk, the company’s founder, learned last month that FormulaFolio will jump from No. 944, with a 471 percent growth rate, on the Inc. 5000 list and into the Inc. 500. The investment management firm had $11.51 million in revenue in 2015 and currently manages approximately $1.5 billon.

This year, Wenk said FormulaFolio should generate between $15 million and $16 million in revenues, having already generated $7 million in the first five months of 2016.

A company could rank on the list by growing from $20,000 in year one to $2 million in year three, Wenk said, but it’s still a fun recognition.

“You don’t see too many $20-, $30-, $50-million companies remaining in the thousand percent growth range,” Wenk said. “At some point, we’ll obviously slow down. But it’s fun.”

FormulaFolio also was named to the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers in the U.S., one of two in West Michigan, along with Financial Advisory Corp.

All that growth necessitates an expansion of the company’s headquarters at 89 Ionia Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. Wenk’s firm is expanding from its sixth-floor space to include the fifth floor, with work by its landlord, Rockford Construction.

The added space will be approximately 7,500 square feet, doubling the office's footprint to 15,000 square feet, including 3,500 square feet dedicated as a training facility for new advisors.

Wenk is proud of the company’s growth, but he’s also amazed by all the development in downtown Grand Rapids.

“Business is good, and it’s been cool being downtown. And with all the things going on downtown, it kind of makes us look insignificant,” Wenk said. “It’s awfully impressive, and it’s all positive.”

The growth in Grand Rapids has made it exciting for Wenk to bring in company advisers from across the country, but it also poses a problem. He hosted a group of advisors a few weeks ago and could find rooms in the JW Marriott Grand Rapids but had to have event space in the Amway Grand Plaza.

Wenk takes visitors to various Grand Rapids restaurants, but he wants to host the outings more often, so within the office expansion is a lounge and break room next to the training facility.

“That facility will help a lot,” Wenk said. “It’ll be a dedicated meeting space, and we’ll only have to work with hotel bookings and not worry about extra meeting space.”

The current renovation will set FormulaFolio up for the next two or three years, but Wenk hopes the growth will continue and necessitate a further expansion — hopefully within the building, Wenk said.

FormulaFolio’s selection to the Financial Times list should help continue the growth through positive reinforcement, Wenk said. The list by the British publication looks at several major factors including regulatory history, assets under management and growth rate.

The list also looks at employee count, which can suggest growth plans, Wenk said. Currently, FormulaFolio has 250 advisors across the country and approximately 50 in the Grand Rapids area.

Wenk said he was shocked by the ranking by Financial Times.

“We’re pretty new, and it’s impressive,” he said. “A lot of these rankings are really positive for us to be on.”

The lists also help keep morale up on staff, Wenk said.

“I get named in all these lists, but one person can’t do much,” he said. “We have a group that collectively is doing a lot. The staff see what they’re doing, and this all makes it feel tangible getting these recognitions.”

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