Recently, I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion at Addepar’s Q2 Client Advisory Board meeting focused on growth strategies that RIA firms can employ for sustained competitive differentiation.
Panel participants included Addepar Client Advisory Board members:
Bryn Talkington, Managing Partner at Requisite Capital Management
Kurt Miscinski, President and CEO of Cerity Partners
Mike Tiedemann, Founding Partner and CEO at Tiedemann Advisors
Over the hour-plus conversation, we gained numerous insights that we’re excited to share with you.
Here are five tips these leaders shared:
Tip 1: Invest in your people and technology
“There’s no magic. We simply try to hire the right people and make sure we give them a lot of runway to grow,” says Talkington.
For those leading wealth management firms, investing in the right people and technology creates a path for sustainable firm growth. This means training talent and investing in technology that empowers your employees.
“It starts with the vocabulary you use,” Miscinski says. “For example, we don’t have employees—we have colleagues and partners. There are no customers, deals or accounts. We only have clients.”
Coupled with the right people, relevant technology infrastructure enables long-term firm growth without compromising the client experience.
“We had the ability to start from day one with Addepar, so the platform continues to be our circulatory system”
Miscinski adds: “Addepar is perfectly suited for our growth ambitions that extend well beyond U.S. borders.”
Tip 2: Know your values and your client advocates
“It is hard to differentiate in the market, but you need to be clear on what your offering is and continue to expand that offering over time. The key is to do that with clarity and show progress over time”
Identify the unique value your firm provides and drive that value home to your clients. Organic growth begins with positive client outcomes. Satisfied clients lead to referrals, and referrals ultimately bring in new clients. It’s important to understand who your best advocates are and leverage them to help generate new business.
Talkington shared “We’ve had multiple referrals due to the Addepar platform. It provides a lot of sophistication and simplicity, so we really try to promote that.”
Tip 3: Explore inorganic growth opportunities that match your values
Pursuing effective inorganic growth requires introspection and prioritization.
Miscinski suggests starting with some critical questions:
“What are you trying to accomplish with a prospective merger? Do you want to enter a new geographic market? Tap fresh leadership talent or build deeper expertise in a given area? Will a merger help you better utilize resources or improve your scale and enhance profitability?”
Tiedemann believes it’s important to be both discerning and realistic about the timeframe required for a merger to succeed, for example.
“You may enter the process hoping for three years to achieve growth, but should recognize that realistically, it may take four to five. If you aren’t comfortable with that, you probably shouldn’t do it.”
Not all opportunities are ripe – and picking the right ones upfront prepares firms for sustainable expansion.
"You have to balance your desire for growth with retaining a really healthy balance sheet,” Tiedemann added.
Tip 4: Enhance the expertise you bring to clients
“The firms in our industry that are more comprehensive in nature seem to be accelerating their organic growth”
As you evaluate growth opportunities, take time to consider aside from core wealth management services, what other needs can you meet for your clients?
Miscinski cites how non-investment services can provide a strategic edge in marketing to clients who want comprehensive, one-stop wealth management.
Cerity Partners, Requisite and Tiedemann Advisors all incorporate innovative client-centric tools such as private client podcasts and value-based insights to engage with existing clients. These marketing efforts provide incremental value to their client base. Consider new ways to connect with and reinforce the value you bring to your clients.
Tip 5: Establish a feedback loop
“We take value-based surveys to help families determine their priorities and the legacy they want to create with their wealth.”
How your clients view your firm and your offerings is the cornerstone of any growth strategy. To get a perspective on your client’s priorities, listen, engage and take the time to truly understand their needs. Then, continually revisit your investment strategy to meet these needs – for example, by incorporating private investments, impact investing or co-investing.
“Our strategies aren’t purely reliant on interest rates moving lower and stocks moving higher,” comments Talkington. “We’ve been in this bull market for bonds for 40 years, but I do think we’re at a tipping point where having ready access to private investments is going to be critical going forward.”
They also discussed the value of tracking all assets and investments within Addepar. This enables advisors to show their clients the value of deals, so emotional attachments can be viewed objectively, alongside the true value of their assets.
In the end, your focus for growth clearly starts and ends with the client.
“We’re never going to be someone’s first advisor, but we want to be their last—and we’ll never take that for granted.”
Connect with us today to learn more about how Addepar can help your firm deliver exceptional client experiences.