John Upham, president at SageView Advisory Group, told attendees of the 2013 PLANADVISER Conference in Orlando, Florida, that most advisers got into the business because they love being with clients. So, a firm must have support in-house such as billing, administration to put reports together and maybe even staff that just handles requests for proposals (RFPs). As the business grows, it will need human resources (HR), research, sales and relationship management staff. His firm believes in feet-on-the-ground, local advisers.
Michael Goss, executive vice president at Fiduciary Investment Advisors, said his firm has a dedicated sales team to bring in business, and then advisers serve clients. They do not want advisers to spend time pulling and binding reports, so the firm employs adviser analysts who specialize in the same market as the advisers—defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC), nonprofit, etc.—for support services.
According to J. Fielding Miller, co-founder and CEO at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, while his firm’s advisers also source relationships, it has support and research groups so advisers can be out in the market pursuing opportunities and serving clients.
Miller said the bedrock values of an adviser’s business should be complete objectivity and shared ownership, which is key for workplace culture.
According to Goss, growth of the business occurs through a combination of a tactical response to market changes and strategic decisions about where advisers want to go in the market. Upham added that as the business evolves through tactical approaches, advisers must make strategic decisions, such as whether to hire an actuary or expand to a new market.
Miller explained that the retirement advisory business is smaller than people think, so there’s not a lot of acquisition potential. Businesses grow more by hiring and training advisers. However, he does see acquisition potential in the wealth management space.
According to Upham, there is a dilemma for entrepreneurs who move to working for larger firms, and to survive the change, they must keep their entrepreneurial spirit while seeing the advantages of association with an established firm.