United Capital Takes to the Airwaves With New RIA

Having your own radio program isn’t an essential element of an advisor practice acquisition at United Capital Financial Advisers. But as both sides of United’s latest deal put it, it didn’t hurt, either.

The national RIA in Newport Beach, Calif. said today it has bought Steven L. Pomeranz Financial Management in Boca Raton, Fla., a practice with $200 million in assets and about 140 family relationships. Pomeranz has been in the RIA business for 16 years and in the radio business for 11 years—he produces “On the Money! With Steve Pomeranz,” a weekly program of financial advice and interviews that’s carried by nine stations in Florida, California, New York and Tennessee.

Pomeranz and Jason Del Col, United Capital’s senior vice president of advisory services, maintain the sale would have gone ahead without Pomeranz’s radio presence. But United plans to put the show to use in its national marketing plans—United plans to place the show in other markets in the nation where it has member advisors as a way of driving new investor traffic, and possibly recruit more advisors as well.

Pomeranz, 60, is United Capital’s sixth advisor practice in Florida. The firm is still determining which markets to enter, Del Col said.

“Our objective is to look at where we’ve got strong offices with plenty of capacity. I wouldn’t put a number on it,” he said. “We look at expansion in Florida and going into a few more markets around the country as step one, and take it from there.”

United Capital CEO Joe Duran will appear occasionally on the program, and possibly other United advisors. The radio show also will help promote United Capital’s proprietary practice management tools, including its advisor-client communications exercise called Honest Conversations, and Money Mind Analyzer, a Web application that helps clients understand their feelings about money.

Pomeranz said he already discussed those tools on a program last month.

Radio is a popular medium for advisors looking to prospect for leads. Ric Edelman of Edelman Financial Group has hosted a national program for years; last month Lee Equity Partners said it plans to take the publicly-held company private.

Radio has helped grow Pomeranz’s practice from $30 million in AUM 10 years ago to $200 million today, he says. His program generates about 10 to 20 leads a month. He had no ratings statistics—eight of the nine stations that carry it are with National Public Radio—but he estimates the program has 10,000 to 15,000 listeners a week in south Florida.

“The marketing role of an advisor is to differentiate, and you need to break through the noise. You’re competing against large outfits with 10,000 or 20,000 registered reps all going out and joining Rotaries and churches and so on to get business,” he said. “The idea of going into radio turned out to be fantastic. People hear you week after week, they hear your investment philosophies, they get to almost feel they know you personally. It’s very, very powerful.”

He got involved in the medium at the behest of a PR firm he hired. He described the early programs as “very raw, very shaky,” but the polish grew. In recent years his guests have included members of Congress, a former governor of the Federal Reserve, and presidential candidate Ron Paul, who debated the merits of gold investing with him two years ago.

The decision to join United came because he had come to a crossroads, he said. He had a staff of four and he didn’t think he could grow without hiring more advisors and building out a larger firm, developments that would have him serving in more of an administrative capacity.

United provides him with human resource and investment strategy services, which frees him to focus on other parts of his business—including the radio rollout.

This is United’s third acquisition this year. The firm now has 38 offices around the country and $5.5 billion in assets under management ($14 billion in assets under advisement.)

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