Keith Gregg, former president and CEO at First Allied Securities and the man responsible for launching the first wirehouse independent broker/dealer (now known as Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network), has launched a software-as-a-service-based member benefit organization, Chalice Financial Network, and digital marketplace, Chalice Advisor Exchange, aimed at independent advisors and registered investment advisors.
While other service providers to independent advisors, such as Dynasty Financial Partners, focus on larger advisory teams, Chalice is focused on advisors with between $50 million to $250 million in assets under management, which tend to lack the economies of scale to build the services and support that the firm hopes to offer.
“It’s the largest segment of our industry right now,” Gregg said. “They need this kind of representation, to solve for economies of scale and to create a community where they can have peer-to-peer networking and collaboration to help them run their business better.”
For a flat monthly fee of $250, advisors get access to the single sign-on shared services technology platform, which includes 35 different products, services and vendors. Some services are complimentary; for example, every advisor who signs on receives a free lead generating and marketing website. Other services are available at deeply discounted member pricing; for example, members get 55 percent off at Office Depot. Members also get access to such tech vendors as Orion, Redtail and SmartX at negotiated prices.
Another feature of membership is access to guaranteed issue group health insurance. Chalice partnered with professional employer organization Oasis Outsourcing to provide group health insurance to advisor members, their staff and families.
“You get access to our PEO for free, whereas historically unless you have 10 people or better as part of your group, they won’t even talk to you about giving access to group health insurance that will save you as much as 25 to 30 percent,” Gregg said.
While it’s not core to its business, Chalice also has a broker/dealer and corporate RIA, as an accommodation for advisors who need a place to hang their shingle. (Gregg hired Derek Bruton, the former head of LPL Financial's independent advisor services, in April 2018, to serve as president of the b/d and RIA.)
The idea of the network is to help independent advisors through the entire lifecycle of their business—from starting it to exiting. The firm has resources to help advisors set up their own LLC or RIA and has negotiated a deal with WeWork to provide office space at a 25 percent discount. It offers help with growing and running an advisor's business—through the shared-services platform.
For help at the end of the lifecycle, the firm has a deal with Succession Link, a marketplace for buying, selling and merging practices. Chalice will even provide non-SBA loans to advisors who need it.
“We recognize that when you leave Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Wells Fargo, wherever, and you go through this transition from being an employee to being an entrepreneur now running the business, you might very well be a terrific wealth advisor, but you may not know a damn thing about running a business.”