Massive Growth in Stealth Mode

Part 3 - The Art of AUM Monetization and Acquisitions.

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Part 3 - The Art of AUM Monetization and Acquisitions.

Working Remotely is like having your Own Sub-Branch. Top Advisors see this as a boon, some have experienced massive growth in their practice and others have pursued major transitional transactions.

There’s a certain cache that comes with having an independent branch office, your own boardroom, your own staff and non of the noise of being a part of a bigger branch. Achieving a sub-branch as an Advisor, tells the world that you are a big deal. Certain Advisors view this as having an incredible strategic advantage, being able to differentiate in a big way, while being perceived by potential new clients as a top performing Advisor.

How much AUM do you need to pursue a sub-branch model would depend on the platform you’re affiliated with. However, in the current environment as Advisors work remotely from their homes, every Advisor is experiencing the benefits of the sub-branch like environment. While this may not be as obvious, working away from your traditional corporate office or branch setting offers a unique sandbox to explore different growth strategies. Over the last year, some have really embraced this as a unique opportunity to break away from the traditional approach, both in terms of client service and growth. For those few, this new remote environment has been a boon, they’ve successfully created greater efficiencies in their practice and better balance in their family / work life.

So forget about having your own sub-branch, who needs a fancy boardroom when you can connect with every client comfortably from your living room. This alternative world also offers a break from the group think of traditional Advisors. The truth is that as much as Advisor try to sculpt their practice to their personal style of service and offerings, being a part of a large branch can definitely influence your marketing, service models and even lunch choices 🥡 + 🍺. For some Advisors, this camaraderie is important and having to work alone and think alone can be difficult.

The Sub-Branch Model

This maneuver is used more and more by some of the largest Advisory groups. Top performing Advisors realize that being among the highest producers in their Branch or Firm gives them bargaining power. Many use this clout to relocate their team into separate office space, often away from the primary offices of their firm or away from branches. This creates a boutique feel and really sets them apart. However the most valuable benefit of this Sub-Branch move, that is quite advantageous to the Advisor, is the opportunity to shelter your AUM ahead of a moving to a competitors platform in the future. Often, when an Advisor switches platform, their client list is redistributed to other within their branch. By forming a sub branch, you often have much higher success in moving clients, without the friction of other advisors poaching your clients. One simple reason for this is that sub-branches are often autonomous, so they tend to be linked to a primary branch, but with less influence of the main branches administration, therefore in the event of the sub branch Advisor moving to a competitor, it’s less likely that the main branch administration team would mobilize quickly enough to impact the move.


Many top Advisors see the current remote work setting as a boon, some have experienced massive growth in their practice and others have pursued major transitional transactions, solely because they’ve had the benefit of operating in stealth mode. Working remotely allows you to keep a low profile to pursue strategies that can offer unprecedented growth, but requires a certain veil of privacy or a clandestine environment.

SIX “BIG GROWTH” TACTICAL MOVES THAT REQUIRE “STEALTH”

  1. Form a Transitional Partnership in Stealth Mode

  2. Achieve a Successful Acquisition in Stealth Mode.

  3. Execute a Successful Platform Transition in Stealth Mode.

  4. Acquire Carve-Out Assets In Stealth Mode

  5. Sell Carve-Out Assets In Stealth Mode

  6. Retire in Stealth Mode.


Form a Transitional Partnership in Stealth Mode

One of the most under-utilized mechanisms of growth in the Wealth Management business is the partnership model. Forming a partnership to pursue the eventual acquisition of AUM is by far one of the most potent strategies to pursue. The current remote work environment coupled with the overall demographics of the industry, creates a setting abundant with opportunities to set yourself up for an acquisition by partnering with other Advisors who are being challenged by the current unusual circumstances.

A partnership can provide tremendous opportunities for growth, it may require patience, however if you align with the right partner, it can be your ticket. Transitional partnerships are unique because they are done with a specific intent, and therefore can be a big win for both partners, some of the benefits are less obvious but significant. Today the most obvious source of partnerships are with Advisors close to retirement. Transitional Partnership is a mechanism for the retiring Advisor to secure themselves a buyer of their practice, while the acquiring Advisor is positioned to quickly and efficiently increase their AUM & Revenues.

One factor leading to these big opportunities right now is the simple fact that humans are creatures of habits, and many senior Advisors have found working remotely to be a real challenge. They're having difficulty to deliver and sustain great client service levels, or maybe frustrated by the lack of administrative support they’ve grown use to in an office setting, something that is clearly missing when working from Home.

Entrepreneurial Advisors, that have mastered this remote environment and are able to continue to provide a streamlined client experience, are in a unique position to partner by offering their expertise and process to help the senior Advisor increase their service levels.

One of the greatest benefits of pursuing the partnership route to AUM acquisition is that there’s higher retention rate and certainty, it’s almost guaranteed that the clients acquired will remain, because there’s a natural succession. Another substantial benefit is that the acquiring Advisor may be in a position to negotiate a better acquisition price.


Achieve a Successful Acquisition in Stealth Mode

We believe that AUM Acquisitions are the number one pathway to explosive revenue growth in this business today. While finding a book of business to acquire can be a stumbling block, those that position themselves for acquisitions during in the current environment will emerge amongst the top performer on the other side.

But the opportunities are also greater now, the reality is that on both ends of the spectrum opportunities are there to be had, the more obvious AUM acquisition targets are retiring Advisors. However, there’s another group to consider, many have found it difficult to grow because of their limited ability to continue traditional marketing efforts, there are no prospecting dinners or seminars to be had.

The landscape is changing and many Advisors who were under pressure before the onset of COVID are now having to make difficult decisions and some are being forced to exit or move to independent platforms that offer better payouts or more friendly to small AUM practices.

Unfortunately, there are also Advisors today who are throwing in the towel. Without being seen as a predatory move, this is creating an opportunity for some Advisors to consolidate smaller books of Assets via acquisitions of AUM from those that are seeking to exit the industry all together.

Regardless, whether you acquire from a retiring Advisor, a carve-out or from an Advisor exiting the industry, there’s an abundance of possibilities to pursue acquisitions today, the key is to align yourself early, be in position to be a trusted partner to acquire. This is where having good relationships within your Advisor network can be a big win.


Execute a Successful Platform Transition in Stealth Mode

Now is a good time to consider those lucrative transition bonus, Advisors who have been pondering the move to another platform or going independent by starting your own firm, should make that move while the have the cover of a remote work setting.

There’s a window of opportunity to get this done without the usual interference.

This remote work landscape offers an unusual layer of independence and privacy for Advisors negotiating their next transaction.  In normal environments, this can be an enormous undertaking, the advantage of working in stealth mode is that it offers a great cover to perform your due diligence, planning for an efficient & lucrative transition and successfully execute your plans. Interestingly, many of the independent firms have benefited from this, as they’ve increased their recruitment efforts and are offering more flexibility for transitions.

There are certainly some other big benefits in additional to the money when considering a transition:

  • Firm Culture

  • Ongoing Compensation

  • Advisor Support

  • Sale Support, Associates & Team structures

  • Client Experience


Sell Carve-Out Assets In Stealth Mode

If you are feeling a bit stressed by the lack of support, this might be the right time to reduce the size of your practice, focus on the client relationship that are meaningful, whether from a revenue standpoint or just great relationships.

One way to streamline the practice is to carve out a portion of AUM that is less aligned with your overall business model or objectives, this will alleviate the stress of servicing this group of clients, while creating an avenue for a potential lucrative payout that is not affected by the firms payout grid.

Many top Advisors use the Carve-out strategy as a mechanism to propel focused growth, the big advantage is that you remove the distraction of dealing with clients that do not align.

But instead of just firing these clients, creating an AUM package and selling this carve-out package to another Advisor offers a way to generate some lucrative cash flow that is all yours and not constrained by your production grid levels.

Selling can also free up time and resources in your practice and create a higher level of overall efficiency. Here are some of the more common carve-outs scenarios:

  • Sale of Bottom Quartile AUM

  • Sale of Unmanaged AUM

  • Sale of AUM where there’s a lack of alignment

  • Sale of AUM where they may be Personality Conflicts.


Acquire Carve-Out Assets In Stealth Mode

The opportunity to Acquire AUM at an early stage in your career can be the single greatest factor to building a successful practice or even determine whether you can survive long enough to be successful. The concept of Rotational AUM is the single greatest opportunity that Advisors today have to grow revenues.

Those who focus on Acquisitions as a growth strategy, have a opportunity to fast track AUM grow. In the article “$45 mil to $500 mil AUM in just 3 Years” we profile an Advisor who did just that, strategically positioned himself to complete multiple acquisitions in a short period.

While Carve-out transactions can propel AUM growth, you must be cognizant of the quality of AUM you’re acquiring and have a full understanding of why the AUM is being sold.

When there’s alignment, combining a few of these transaction will move you further and faster ahead than any traditional marketing efforts would.

The conundrum for Advisors who rely heavily on traditional marketing, is that you are stuck and cannot grow today, if you’re in this camp, its crucial for you to seek out opportunities to acquire carve-out assets. This can be achieved by approaching others in your network that have larger AUM businesses, Advisors that have clients outside of their core etc. or older Advisor that might consider selling small tranches of AUM.


Retire in Stealth Mode

If you’re starting to think about retirement or succession, or frustrated with the challenges of working in a remote setting, this is a great environment to monetize your AUM.

As most Advisors approach retirement age they may seek to monetize their AUM to create a nest egg during retirement. This is an great environment to negotiate a good exit, its worth short listing a number of capable Advisors with good alignment, you might have an opportunity to create a bidding war. Progressive and business savvy Advisors are seeking out opportunities to acquire AUM, because it is near impossible to grow from traditional marketing initiative in the current environment.

If you have time on your side, consider maximizing the value of your AUM, by selling small tranches, keep in mind that we’ve been in a long bull market, your AUM is optimally valued today, don’t wait for a market correction to consider selling you won’t achieve the same values. Selling smaller blocks, will result in the highest cash value of your AUM and might work as a hedge on valuations as well.

Conclusion

Take advantage of this once in a lifetime remote work world to grow, it is likely that many will return a traditional office setting within just a few months. The window to execute on some big moves to propel your revenue growth is now. Any further procrastination will likely result in a missed opportunity.

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