Chris Mone Outlines 3 Characteristics of a Boutique Firm
Boutique wealth management firms are in a unique position these days, offering advisors an entrepreneurial environment, a true partnership, and access to get things done. Whether you are actively looking for a better home, or simply re-assessing your current situation, the key is to ensure your business thrives and your clients are the number one priority. At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your firm is just as important as the one you have with your client.
Throughout my career in wealth management, I have found the most beneficial working relationships financial advisors can have with their firm typically includes a mixture of the ability for the advisor to be the steward of their own business and access to the full capabilities of the firm. I break it down to three key elements – Entrepreneurial Environment, Partnership, and Access.
For the most part, all wealth management firms launched with an entrepreneurial vision. The reality is that as over time, and as firms grow, the entrepreneurial vision diminishes or even vanishes. Agile firms work with the times, but also stay true to who they are. Your independent firms are your agile firms – they tend to stick to their roots that got them started, but also understand they are in a prime position to be first movers on the innovation front that larger and public companies simply aren’t able to turn around so quickly. Simply put, they preserve the ability to get things done for the clients we serve.
Part of that entrepreneurial spirit includes the relationship these boutique firms have with their advisors. A good working relationship should be more like a partnership than an employer/employee relationship. The partnership between an advisor and their firm, best leverages the strengths of each to the benefit of both. Does your firm work this way with you? If not, consider the possibilities of a firm that does. It could open up new avenues of growth that could be beneficial to your clients. The relationship between advisors and their clients is built on trust and competency and your relationship with your firm should leverage mutual strengths to preserve and support your client relationships and the growth of your practice.
Access to your senior leadership, access to participate in cross-divisional business opportunities, information, support, and materials can have a massive impact on the growth of an advisor’s practice. Access should be a key component when conducting your due diligence on which firm you want to partner with. Do they have other resources for you like investment banking, research, clearing, prime services, or are those outsourced? You should have the ability to communicate directly with your top leadership without concern for internal politics to ensure your voice is heard. With a true partnership you have an important voice, and should benefit from unlimited access to the tools, platforms, and colleagues that make your business run efficiently and grow exponentially.
It seems like every five years or so we, as an industry, find ourselves confronting the potential for massive change and redefining what it means to be a financial advisor. Whether it’s a financial crisis, robo-advisors/automation, or even a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, we are always racing to stay ahead of the pace of change, reevaluating our business and partnerships. To demand the best for your practice and for your clients, your relationship with your firm could be the difference between being managed to the lowest common denominator, and your business thriving.
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