A five-person team with about $500 million in client assets broke away from Merrill Lynch to launch their own registered investment advisory firm, Sykon Capital, with tru Independence, a $10 billion RIA platform based in Portland, Ore. Including this latest launch, tru has added more than $2 billion to its platform in the first half of 2023.
Sykon, with offices in Westchester County, N.Y, and Florida’s Palm Beach County, includes Chairman and CEO Stephen Ruvituso, President and CIO Todd Stankiewicz, COO/CIO Joseph Castiglie III, Managing Partner of Client Engagement Julie Ackerman and Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Shawn Teufel. Ruvituso, Stankiewicz and Ackerman are all owners in the new firm.
Stacy Sizemore, chief compliance officer with tru Independence, will serve in that role for Sykon.
“We co-founded Sykon on a shared passion and strong belief that the only way for financial advisors to be true advocates in today’s environment is by being independent,” the founders wrote in a social media post.
Sykon provides asset management and wealth and retirement planning, as well as investment advisory consultation on held-away accounts, for institutional investors, wealthy individuals, trusts and estates, qualified purchasers and retirement plan participants. The team also advises on pension and profit-sharing plans and offers asset management services for institutional entities such as family offices, nonprofits, foundations and endowments.
Charles Schwab has been selected as the firm’s custodian and provided a loan to support the launch, according to an IAPD brochure filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission early this month. Sykon expects to leverage aspects of Schwab Advisor Services’ technology, account and trading software, research, and back-office support, per the filing, but will also take advantage of truView—part of tru’s “experience-as-a-service” platform combining client data, behavioral finance, portfolio management, risk assessment, investment solutions and business insights in a single source code technology, unveiled last month.
“The single source code, embedded technology solution we now have access to via truView stood out as a clear leader among the business management systems we evaluated,” Ruvituso said in a statement.
“The services that tru provides will enable us to not only serve our clients to the highest standard but also to grow alongside Craig, Amit and tru,” he said, referring to tru founder and CEO Craig Stuvland and President and COO Amit Dogra.
“It’s human capital and behavioral finance delivered through fintech,” Dogra explained to WealthManagement.com earlier this year. “It all ties together ... and, if you think about it, it’s consistent with where the industry is going. Advisors are living in a behavioral world already and now we’re giving them the tools to really be that life advisor.
“No other competitor has figured out how to put it together,” he said. “I think we're right and we're early. The industry will catch up, but we're excited about our first mover advantage.”
After adding more than $2 billion in client assets through the first half of the year, the tru platform comprises more than $10 billion in assets across 32 partner firms—including four that have been added in the last five months: Sykon, Gainline Financial Partners, Crossover Capital Advisors and Seven Mile Advisory, also based in New York.
“The teams that are jumping at this the fastest are right here in the Empire State,” said Dogra.
As clients expect advisors to provide an increasing array of services, Dogra said the secret to differentiation is to outsource many day-to-day tasks to a platform provider like tru, while becoming an expert on timely tangential topics of interest to clients—such as crypto, hedging in down markets or private and alternative investments—that can set the advisor apart.
“No one talks about core asset allocation, but they talk about everything around it,” he said. “If you have expertise and it's a tangential sort of piece, you get the credit for that expertise across the entire investment spectrum through a kind of halo effect.”