Tom Prescott, co-founder of Advisory Services Network (ASN), recognized the potential of the independent advisor market a long time ago. ASN was born out of Mainstay Capital Markets Consultants, where for 30 years Prescott and his partners helped clients who were transitioning from bigger firms or major banks to their own boutique broker dealer or investment advisory.
“We were no different than any other consulting firm,” Prescott says. “We set up the firm for clients, get it registered, do all the compliance background. The difference was that at some point we started doing a lot of outsourcing, and it was a part of the business that, candidly, I didn’t like because we weren’t controlling the information flow. So, when we sat down to create ASN, the idea was to be able to wrap best-of-breed services around people who wanted independence.”
That was 13 years ago. ASN initially took on two beta clients to determine if everything they had put in place was going to work the way they envisioned it.
“There’s an argument to be made over whether you can work in a business or on a business,” says Prescott. “We wanted to be able to free up our clients’ time — to give them back the chunk of time they’re spending on administrative work and compliance. We lift that off them so they can serve clients’ needs in a more attentive and detailed manner.”
Today, ASN has an 89 percent retention rate, and by year’s end will boast nearly $6 billion in assets under management. They’ve grown by focusing on advisors in the $15-300 million asset range — a segment that ASN felt strongly was underserved.
“A lot of the big box firms manage to the least common denominator,” says Prescott. “We’re trying to make sure advisors have the necessary tools to sufficiently cater to their clients, to be the fiduciary. They’re going to own the client relationships. At the end of the day, if they leave ASN in five years or 10 years, those clients are their clients, not ours.”
“We’re able to help them get to where they want to be,” Prescott says. “Where else could a $20 million to $100 million shop get the level of services that we provide? Many of our competitors feel like if it’s not a half-billion or billion-dollar shop, they don’t want to talk to them. That’s fine by us. We found the segment of the market we want to serve — and there also happens to be more of them, by the way.”
Advisory Services Network is banking on this segment to continue to grow rapidly, and they’re positioned to grow right along with it.
“This is a very exciting part of the market right now, as so many participants make their way toward independence,” says Prescott. “We’re in the right place at the right time.”