I am not a conference person. I always feel like I am most productive when in my office or meeting with advisors on their turf. But, I have to say that I was proven wrong this past week in Denver when I attended the mega custodian’s big event of the year where more than 5000 people, 1600 of them RIAs, converged upon the Mile High City.
Here’s a list of my top take aways:
- Advisors running their businesses in the broker dealer world lack control – and are bothered by it. I had the opportunity to talk with many newly minted independents who came from wirehouses or IBD’s and all of them reported embracing a sense of freedom and autonomy that had been previously lacking. These folks are using these freedoms to customize their service model, report on assets held away, acquire other practices, and plan for succession.
- RIAs have come to expect, and rightly so, more from their custodians. To be sure, safe asset custody, cutting edge technology, and operational support are the basic deliverables but it is “thought partnership” and practice management support that these advisors value most.
- 54% of industry assets are held by firms managing in excess of $1B. These firms, whether they be wirehouses or mid size independents are the ones that invest in their businesses and innovate in meaningful ways. This proves that scale and size matter.
- Schwab reports that their average deal size is up 31% in 2014 and that their recruiting from wirehouses has doubled year over year. While the stats are new information to me, the facts don’t surprise me at all. We are seeing an ever increasing number of mega teams and individual practitioners choosing independence because they value control over their destiny more than anything else.
- In order to build a $1B plus enterprise, nothing moves the needle more than acquisition.
- Independent firms where business development is solely dependent upon the principal(s) and without viable succession plans have little to no enterprise value.
- Not everyone is cut out to be independent.
While time in my office and in the field is well spent, it’s good to listen and absorb every once in a while. I learned a lot at IMPACT and felt glad that I pushed myself to step outside my comfort zone.