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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: How Brent Brodeski Bought Out His Co-Founder and Grew His Firm with Patient Capital

Savant Capital's Brent Brodeski explains what it takes to buy out a retiring co-founder and the trials and tribulations he went through finding new outside investors.

 

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Welcome back to the 123rd episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Brent Brodeski. Brent is the co-founder and CEO of Savant Capital, an independent RIA based in Rockford, Illinois that oversees more than $6 billion of assets under management for nearly 5,000 clients.

What’s unique about Brent, though, is not merely the trajectory of Savant’s almost entirely organic growth to $6 billion of AUM, but the way the firm navigated the all-too-common challenge of buying out a co-founder, which in their case required raising more than $50 million of capital to fund both the buyout and the next stage of Savant’s own growth, with a vision to 10X the firm in 10 years.

In this episode, we talk in depth about what it means to recapitalize an advisory firm by buying out a founder and taking on new outside investors to provide the cash for growth. The way that Brent interviewed financial buyers, private equity firms, and banks that were willing to lend, the key factors that he considered with respect to each type of investor in trying to decide who to work with and who to take capital from, and why he ultimately rejected them all and instead worked directly with some high-net-worth family offices to be his patient capital investors for the future, and how even his deal with a family office nearly blew up on the finish line when he had last-minute doubts that one of his investors was really properly aligned with his own vision for the firm.

We also talk about Savant’s advisory firm business itself. How the firm shifted its organic growth from being primarily founder-led into being more broadly carried by a large number of advisors at the firm, how Savant has also shared opportunities for ownership in recent years across more than 50 employees in the firm, how Savant’s advisor compensation is structured, with a combination of salary base and bonuses for both firm growth and individual business development, and how Savant has had to evolve its executive and leadership structure to effectively manage what is now 173 employees.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Brent shares the 8 distinct phases that he’s seen his advisory firm go through over the past 25 years. The way his own role in the firm has shifted and changed as the business itself has evolved, the system they put in place to strategically plan for and execute the business’s goals based on John Doerr’s “Measure What Matters” approach, and what exactly Savant’s plan is to try to 10X the firm in the next 10 years.

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