St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James announced plans this week to develop a new network for prospective buyers and sellers of advisory practices to connect, a kind of Match.com or eHarmony for advisors. Scott Curtis, president of the firm’s private client group, said the new platform, expected to be finished by the end of this year, will be available to Raymond James advisors exclusively.
The firm hasn’t arrived on a name yet for the platform, but it requires significant resources to get up and running, especially since both prospective buyers and sellers will be required to create profiles.
The brokerage will leave it up to potential sellers to decide who they end up communicating with.
“It’s not going to be like a classified ad—put your practice up for sale and see who calls. That would be chaos,” Curtis said.
Curtis, who spoke at the firm’s annual conference in Las Vegas this week, said a lot of the firm’s advisors already have a succession plan in place or are interested in acquiring a business. But they don’t know how to get in touch with people to get a transaction going.
“That’s not the easiest thing to manage because oftentimes sellers are interested in someone who’s within a reasonable proximity of their geographic location, and then clearly they want to make sure that the person who is acquiring—there’s significant overlap in terms of how they run their business,” he said. “It would be potentially really disruptive to clients to have someone acquire who manages their business in a completely different way versus the person who is selling.”
The idea is to help prospective sellers find acquirers that may be a better match, not just for clients, but for an advisor’s staff and associates, if they intend to stick around.
Raymond James has provided financing for succession plan deals for many years; it will continue to do so under the new offering.
“If the price that is arrived at between the seller and the buyer exceeds what we’re comfortable financing, we have relationships with third party financing organizations, and we can just refer the buyer to one of those organizations,” Curtis said.
A couple platforms already exist to facilitate deals between buyers and sellers in the financial advisory space, including Succession Link and FP Transitions.