Advisor Views On Settling In After A Transition

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Advisors Address Changes To Business And Opportunities After Transitioning To A New Partner Or A Major Home Office Transition

A wedding isn’t a marriage – it’s just the first day. Similarly, an advisor transition happens quickly, but its effects will be worked out on a day-by-day, long-term basis. The new set of dynamics between the partners brings the fulfilment of expectations (or not), post-transitional surprises and changes to the advisor’s daily business, opportunities and available tools.

We reached out to three advisors to ask how they settled in post-transition: Rory O’Hara, Founder and Senior Managing Partner of Ausperity Private Wealth, an affiliate of Sanctuary Wealth; John F. Macielag, President of All Seasons Capital and Advisory, an affiliate of Stifel Independent Advisors; and Brandon Dixon-James, President and Wealth Manager at Resilient Wealth Management, an Osaic affiliate. For Dixon-James, we asked how advisors are settling in after the transition from Advisor Group to Osaic.

Our questions for each advisor are below, with their answers.

Rory O’Hara, Founder And Senior Managing Partner Of Ausperity Private Wealth

Rory O’Hara, Founder & Senior Managing Partner, Ausperity Private Wealth

WSR: What are the unique issues that advisors who serve high net worth clients encounter during the settling-in process after transition? What feedback have you received? How does being part of Sanctuary help in the process?

O’Hara: The transition involves a significant shift in the business model. Advisors must adapt to managing their own practice, including client acquisition and retention, marketing and branding, compliance and technology infrastructure. This can be a daunting task, especially for those used to the level of support and resources that come from working at a wirehouse.

But it’s not just the advisor. High net worth clients have become accustomed to those services and resources as well. So, when transitioning to an independent firm, advisors must manage client expectations and ensure they are comfortable with the new arrangements. This involves communicating the firm’s structure, fees and service offerings, as well as addressing any concerns about the transition.

Our clients have been particularly excited about the increased access we now provide to alternative investments such as private equity, private real estate and private credit. These asset classes have consistently delivered strong returns since our transition in 2021, and our clients have been pleased with the opportunity to participate.

Sanctuary Wealth has provided us with the autonomy and flexibility of being an independent firm, coupled with the support and resources of a larger organization. We knew we were becoming first-time business owners and wanted to manage that experience effectively. Sanctuary enabled us to focus on what we do best – providing personalized, high-quality financial advice to our clients – while handling the behind-the-scenes operations that keep our business running smoothly.

Perhaps the most significant advantage of being part of Sanctuary Wealth is learning from and collaborating with other successful independent advisors. Through the network of partner firms, we have gained access to a wealth of best practices and insights that have helped us refine our business strategies and enhance our client service offerings.

John F. Macielag, President, All Seasons Capital And Advisory

John F. Macielag, President, All Seasons Capital and Advisory

WSR: How did you view your settling in at Stifel one to two years down the road? What was unexpected or particularly stood out during the time of settling in? How does being part of a business group that includes banking and lending make a difference?

Macielag: We did extensive due diligence before our move, but you can’t be certain until you are on the other side. It is very important to identify the improvements you are looking for in your practice and client benefits. We did this and then marked them off after the migration, which gave us confidence in the transition.

By clearly defining our goals in migrating our practice and then pointing to them here at Stifel Independent Advisors, we were better able to articulate the value proposition to our clients. We have stepped up our referral network and have had some additional successes that were not possible before by virtue of being an independent advisory practice.

One thing I didn’t realize ahead of time was how uplifted and inspired I would feel by building my own practice. We always said we had our own practice at the wirehouse, but really, we didn’t. It wasn’t until we created an independent practice that we felt like it truly became our practice.  We made and continue to make all kinds of decisions all the time that we never could have made at a wirehouse.

Everything we do is through the lens of what’s best for our clients with no other considerations.  That may seem obvious, but anyone who has worked for a big firm can attest to the red tape that can sometimes get in the way or at least slow you down. So the biggest surprise has been the spring in my step due to the freedom to focus like a laser beam on client goals and outcomes.

Our experience to date with Stifel Bank & Trust has been great. We have availed our practice and our clients to the bank where appropriate. We have articulated the bank as a resource, and clients appreciate that. Our long-standing clients also rightly sensed it’s a resource and not a quota. That has strengthened our relationships rather than stressed them.

Our team is also very relieved not to have banking requirements or initiatives to meet for our clients. Our client service professionals love our clients and serving their needs but really get nervous when non-need factors are introduced into the equation. That does not happen here as a Stifel Independent Advisors practice, and it puts even more spring in our step!

Brandon Dixon-James, President And Wealth Manager At Resilient Wealth Management

Brandon Dixon-James, President & Wealth Manager, Resilient Wealth Management

WSR: How do advisors typically view their settling in at Osaic after the rebrand and streamlining of Advisor Group into Osaic? Are there things they value more post-transition that differ from what they valued before the transition?

Dixon-James: Advisors are viewing their settling in after the transition in phases. The first phase for some is going to be a new interface and getting used to changes to their single sign-on portal and for others it’s business as usual. The second phase is focused on how the change impacts business – good or bad.

The name change itself is irrelevant as most of us brand our businesses separate of the BD and focus more on business workflows and back-office support. The back-office support no longer has to differentiate which sister company was your BD because now having one company should produce a more efficient way to do business in the years to come.

The biggest expectation of value-add post transition is succession plans and mergers. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, the network of people you can work with just significantly increased. If you’re wanting to partner up or combine efforts, that pool of availability just increased. As an advisor, I also assume that there’s more scale in size since now we’re all one company. I expect our product and service offerings or discounts to improve.

Being one company also increases the BD’s value from a private equity standpoint.

Most will find the rebranding to be very beneficial. I’m excited to see changes at our first conference as one company and then going forward after all of the companies are fully immersed into one. As for me personally, the transition has been seamless and almost non-evident in my business other than a few logistical changes (e.g., disclosures, client portal name change, letters to clients).

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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