Dynasty Financial Partners, a service provider to independent RIAs and a leader in helping advisors establish their own firms, has named a new head of its expanding business development team and grown its network of RIAs amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
John Sullivan, who joined the company as its twelfth employee in 2012, is the new head of Network Development at Dynasty. He will lead the team of five tasked with growing Dynasty's network and continue to spearhead the central division he was already responsible for.
Sullivan, who is based in Chicago, is filling the top business development position after David Wiener left in May to join Capital Group’s Private Client Services unit.
“Having worked with John for over two decades between our time together at Citi/Smith Barney and Dynasty, I’m thrilled to have John moving into this expanded role at Dynasty,” Shirl Penney, President and CEO of Dynasty, said in a statement about Sullivan’s new role.
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The global health crisis that hindered economies and forced millions to work from home earlier this year also impacted Dynasty. Business development activities slowed in March and April, Sullivan said, as advisors adjusted to working remotely and tended to clients. RIA merger and acquisition activity slumped in the second quarter, too.
In June, Dynasty’s network included 46 RIAs managing an aggregate of $45 billion in client assets, down slightly from as many as 50 reported in 2018. But Penney told RIA Intel the net number of partners was not as important as other metrics. Assets are "how you keep score” and the service provider is evolving to work with bigger, more complex RIAs, and more of them, he said. (In exchange for access to Dynasty’s investment, technology, operations, marketing, compliance, and other services and perks, RIAs pay a fee based on a percentage of the assets they manage.)
Since then, Dynasty’s network has grown to 50 RIAs managing a total of $50 billion in assets, the company said Tuesday, and the pipeline of new RIA partners is strong, according to Sullivan.
Advisors employed by the so-called wirehouses, some of the largest wealth managers including Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Advisors, have acclimated to the circumstances forced by the pandemic and are questioning the benefits of being part of a large organization now that they’ve been working from home, Sullivan said. Advisors also no longer have to run out of the office or wait for “the cover of darkness” to communicate with people like Sullivan. They can take calls coaxing them to Dynasty at will.
The business development team, which was never more than three people, hired two more to find more prospective RIA partners and manage inbound interest in Dynasty. In addition to new partners, the group also helps connect advisors with existing ones they might want to join. Sullivan expects the team will add a sixth person in the near future, likely to cover Texas and nearby states, he said.
Transitioning advisors and their clients to a new or existing RIA is getting easier, too. Due to the pandemic, additions to Dynasty’s network are now only done electronically, which has proved beneficial and expedited the process. One advisory practice managing $1.2 billion established a new firm, walked clients through online forms via video conference, and transitioned over $1 billion of the assets within 10 weeks. Clients are home and more available, too, Sullivan said.
But face-to-face meetings with advisors are coming back, even as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent weeks. “Things are opening back up and advisors seem willing to travel,” Sullivan said.
Last week, for the first time since March, Dynasty revived its longtime practice of hosting the principles of would-be RIA partners at its St. Petersburg, Fla. headquarters. The meetings, referred to internally as “V.I.P.s,” are an opportunity for both parties to get to know one another better, discuss the term sheet, and timing of an RIA launch. Sullivan has more planned this week and in December, depending on developments related to the novel coronavirus. The company is taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus during any in-person meetings but is prioritizing safety of employees and any guests.
As of Tuesday, the meetings were on.
“We expect a very busy year end in the next six weeks and January and February already look as busy, with respect to clients being added to the network,” Sullivan said.
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.