Marty Bicknell’s Mariner Wealth Advisors, one of the largest independent registered investment advisory firms in the nation, is partnering with Dynasty Financial Partners to launch a service for independent advisors that want to affiliate with Mariner but still own their business, the two firms announced Thursday.
In addition, Mariner Wealth has joined turnkey asset management platform Envestnet in taking a minority stake in Dynasty, according to the firms.
Mariner Platform Solutions intends to assist independent advisory firms that want to retain control of their firms but work for Mariner as 1099 contractors, not employees. Mariner will help in creating investment portfolios, acting as the outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO), and providing billing, compliance, technology, marketing support and insurance. The advisors will be independent operators of their own businesses with assets ultimately sitting on Mariner's platform.
Dynasty will provide the advisors turnkey asset management services and perform the trading, rebalancing and servicing of the accounts, along with other back and middle-office functions.
Mariner has traditionally grown into a $28 billion RIA by acquisition, buying 11 firms in the past 14 months. It most recently closed on the acquisition of Wealth Health, a $400 million AUM firm, on March 3. This will be the firm’s first foray into offering independent RIAs a back-office support model.
"In the marketing game, you always lead with your strength and this is a fantastic example of Mariner capitalizing on their infrastructure, operational excellence and wealth management footprint to innovate on an emerging advisor category—the RIA breakaway," said Tim Welsh, a consultant to the RIA industry. "Succession planning has not worked for the founders of the RIA industry, thus that next generation advisor with no career path now has a quick, easy, low-investment-required and direct path to their own entrepreneurial haven. I expect this to not only shake up the existing RIA space, but accelerate the breakaway movement in general.”
The service is meant to target those advisory firms that are small but ambitious enough that they would benefit from being acquired by Mariner or another large RIA, but may be too small for Dynasty’s platform, which typically caters to firms with at least $300 million in AUM.
“Mariner expects that they’ll attract RIAs that just aren’t having fun running a business anymore and they want to tuck in,” said Shirl Penney, co-founder and CEO of Dynasty. “There’s a lot of advisors in large RIAs that maybe want a little more autonomy and want to do their own thing. There could be independent broker dealer reps that want a more truly RIA-centric platform and maybe want to go upmarket to grow their business and plug into a turnkey practice management program.” said Penney. And as always, it could be a destination spot for breakaway wirehouse advisors.
"The number of breakaways is continuing to grow and I think the pace of that growth is going to increase. More and more wirehouse reps are looking to try to figure out what it means to be an RIA," said Bicknell, the founder and CEO of Mariner.
Bicknell said he has about a dozen firms in the pipeline for the service and has hired Jason McElwee, former managing director at Tortoise Capital Partners, as managing director for the seven-person team, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.
Mariner Wealth Advisors had considered hiring employees and launching its own RIA-support platform, but after discussions with Penney decided to make an investment in Dynasty and partner with Penney’s firm to create the new venture, Penney said.
Mariner Wealth Advisors and Dynasty Financial Partners were supposed to launch Mariner Platform Solutions six weeks ago, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the plans.
Mariner and Dynasty changed their focus, initiating work-from-home contingency plans, supporting employees who lost loved ones to COVID and focusing on clients’ concerns about their investments, said Penney.