FA Match’s Ryan Shanks On The Merits Of Asking Tough Questions In Advisor Recruiting

Ryan Shanks Of FA Match Discusses The Merits Of Firms Conducting Honest Self-Assessments, Advisors Conducting Thorough Due Diligence And Smaller Practices Selling To Larger Buyers

Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Financial advisor transitions are among the biggest decisions one can make in this industry. When an advisor is determining how to switch firms, it may seem as though their whole world is in flux. That is where transition specialists can add real value for advisors.

To learn more about the process, we spoke with Ryan Shanks, CEO and Co-Founder of FA Match. The Longmeadow, Massachusetts-based advisor recruiting and coaching firm was founded in 2018 and operates nationwide for the wealth management space, working with RIAs, hybrid RIAs, wirehouses, banks and OSJs.

Shanks and FA Match Co-Founder and CTO Eric Savage rolled out its digital Advisor Match platform in 2020, received $1 million in pre-seed funding and has formed strategic partnerships and alliances with several major wealthtech providers, including Orion and Docupace.

In this Q&A, he shares his insights on the evolution of FA Match, major market trends affecting advisors and firms as well as how they both can succeed in their recruitment goals.

WSR: Why did you start FA Match and how has the business evolved over time?

Shanks: We started the business to provide a private online marketplace so that financial advisors and firms could explore recruiting, M&A and succession options based on mutual compatibility. Over time, we realized that firms need help with their go-to-market strategies to properly compete.

As a result, we developed the Strategic Growth Audit and the Recruiting Readiness Assessment. Similarly, advisors aren’t always the best at evaluating their transition options and our matching technology has evolved over time to provide more clarity around the advantages of a given opportunity.

We also launched Advisor Agent, which provides a bespoke due diligence and project management service to advisors who have over $100 million in portable assets.

WSR: What currently are major market trends affecting advisors and firms that you work with?

Shanks: We are seeing a surge of capital into the space from private equity firms and family offices. We are continuing to see smaller firms who are selling minority stakes to access this capital so that they can accelerate their recruiting and/or acquisition growth.

For the financial advisors, it has become status quo to receive much more capital on a forgivable basis when making a transition from their current firm to a new one. Some of these deals are as high as 100% of revenue or 50 basis points on assets under management.

On the succession front, we are working with more solo practitioners who are selling to larger firms versus recruiting someone into their practice as the risks are too high that the outcome doesn’t meet the expectation.

WSR: What guidance would you give to advisors, and to firms, respectively, to improve their odds of recruitment success?

Shanks: For firms, it is imperative that you look in the mirror and conduct an honest assessment about your past recruiting performance and whether your future goals can be any better. Set aside the ego and explore strategic alignment scenarios that can generate a much greater outcome.

I would like to see financial advisors conduct more thorough due diligence about all their options. So often, the decision comes down to a small handful of firms, when none of them are really the right fit. I also believe that all advisors should evaluate a move with the end in mind, meaning how might their succession plan unfold with each firm.

They should ask the tough questions and never settle. By doing this, the advisor can then be proactive at communicating their intentions with clients to ensure higher retention rates upon the sale of the business in the future.

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at clatham@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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