Q&A: Atria’s Kevin Beard on Optimizing Advisor Recruiting

Kevin Beard, Chief Growth Officer & Founding Partner, Atria Wealth Solutions

Atria’s Chief Growth Officer & Founding Partner, Kevin Beard, Discusses How The Firm Drives Recruiting Success and Adds Value to Newly-Recruited Advisors From the Outset

James Miller,
Contributing Editor & Research Analyst

Kevin Beard, Chief Growth Officer & Founding Partner at Atria Wealth Solutions, is having a banner year that caps off four years of continuous and significant growth at the private equity-backed network of independent wealth management firms.

In addition to playing a crucial role in Atria’s execution of its M&A growth vision– over the past few years alone, the firm has acquired Cadaret Grant, NEXT Financial and Western International Securities, and SCF – Beard has also driven a savvy and effective financial advisor recruiting strategy.

Atria’s Growth by the Numbers 

Atria’s numbers underscore the firm’s ongoing growth success.  

Since launching Atria Wealth Solutions four years ago, in partnership with Lee Equity Partners, a private equity firm with significant expertise in the financial services sector, Beard and his fellow Founding Partners – including Doug Ketterer (CEO) and Eugene Elias, Jr. (COO) – have grown the firm from zero to $100 billion in assets under advisement.

From zero to $100 billion in assets in just four years

Along these same lines, Atria has increased its advisor headcount from a starting point of zero to nearly 2,500 financial advisors across the country today, with annual revenues for the firm approaching $1 billion.

From De Novo to Ascendant

Successfully launching and significantly growing a “de novo” independent wealth management firm in the dual registrant segment to a position of compelling industry leadership over the span of just four years isn’t something that happens every day.

WSR recently connected with Kevin Beard to get his insights on how he and his colleagues have achieved so much within a comparatively compressed timeframe – And what else is next in the world of recruiting, for both Atria and the wider industry.

WSR:  What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for independent wealth management firms seeking to enhance their financial advisor recruiting?  How is Atria making the most of these opportunities while effectively managing the challenges?

Excited about wealth management innovation

Advisors today expect their broker-dealer to have a clear vision to the future of wealth management. They don’t want the same decades-old approach to financial advice. They want a firm that embraces innovation and helps advisors stay ahead of the constantly evolving needs of their clients. 

That’s why we started Atria. We saw a gap in the changing wealth management landscape and realized the industry needed a firm that would transform the relationship between financial advisors and their clients.

At Atria, we often say we have an “unquenchable thirst” for advisor feedback. While advisors at many firms often feel like a number, every advisor in the Atria family has an important voice in shaping the platform. Each one has unique feedback and insight, and we are intently focused on improving as a firm by listening to and acting on that feedback. Advisors want to be seen as partners. Our culture of partnership has presented an incredible opportunity for advisors who seek that type of environment.

Many firms face challenges because of their limitations in either size or scale. But our unique structure achieves an optimal combination of size and scale that allows us to offer advisors expert technology and industry-leading pricing while still providing the premium support levels that experienced advisors have grown to expect. 

WSR:  What are the top three things Atria’s organization does to help newly recruited financial advisors hit the ground running to grow their businesses?

There’s no question our integrated advisor platform, called Unio, comes first. It gives advisors everything they need in one place. Historical transaction data, financial planning tools, comprehensive analytics, business texting, a client portal that weaves the advisor’s brand throughout the client experience. 

Unio’s New Account Opening tool transforms the client onboarding process, makes NIGOs nearly impossible, and has won awards because of how it enhances the process for advisors and clients. Unio’s integrated CRM is built into every page of the platform, so advisors have the information they need to meaningfully interact with clients from anywhere in the system. Unio has changed the game for advisors. 

Second, our advisory platform, called “Contour,” offers advisors and clients a multi-custodian environment and a full wrap platform with the least expensive UMA available on the market. And it’s plug-and-play ready on day one. 

Third, our practice management team works with the advisor to build a business plan with clear milestones and a roadmap to sustainability and success. We see our relationship with advisors as a partnership. Their success is our success. So we do everything we can to keep each other moving forward on the path to a superior wealth management experience. 

Where does the practice management roadmap say we should be right now?

WSR:  What are the top three things Atria’s in-house business development professionals look for in how they work with third-party recruiters to grow the firm?  What makes a third-party recruiter a truly great collaborative partner to your firm?

We choose to work with third-party recruiters who realize that every advisor is unique and doesn’t necessarily fit each broker-dealer the recruiter works with. 

We look for recruiters who take the time to learn our story and understand that we — and every other firm they work with — have a unique place in the recruiter’s arsenal. 

We have spent significant resources to develop expert technology, a culture that puts the advisor experience first, and a vision that is changing the future of the wealth management industry. 

We aren’t just another firm. We are a change agent in this industry. Our most effective collaborations happen with recruiters who understand and are willing to articulate that message. They understand that we’re interested in long-term partnerships with advisors for the right reasons, not just placement for the sake of revenue.

WSR:  If you could be any comic book superhero or supervillain, who would it be – And why?

Anyone who has met with me on Zoom has seen the Superman statue on the shelf behind my desk. I’m a big fan of Superman and he’d be my first choice because he and the “S” on his chest are symbols of hope. 

Thor is a close second choice for me. He exudes optimism and strength and is always looking ahead to a new world, a new vision and new opportunities. 

Those two superheroes both symbolize a vision for the bigger and better opportunities that lie ahead for us all.

James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com 

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