A group of founding advisors have come together to form United Advisor Group, a new registered investment advisor and RIA aggregator, that has chosen Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions as its primary custodian.
The initial partners and advisors have a combined $750 million in assets under management, with more advisors in the pipeline. Principals at the firm predict reaching $1 billion in total assets by the end of this year.
United Advisor Group will be structured as a single-tier partnership, similar to the way many law firms are organized, with an equity-owning partner, and advisors underneath. By contrast, a two-tier partnership has two types of partners, equity and nonequity partners.
The firm will be run by Ray Gettins, who says he will not be a partner. The firm's Form ADV says Gettins owns less than 5% of the RIA. He was most recently director of business development at Interdependent Advisors, an office of supervisory jurisdiction of Cambridge Investment Research. UAG is currently based in Cincinnati, but it will relocate its headquarters to Franklin, Tenn., in March.
The partnership will give each advisor the opportunity to work with Goldman Sachs and other firms that may not be within reach of each one individually due to their size, but can access the services when "we all work together under a common umbrella,” Gettins said.
He said the initial partners and advisors are coming from multiple independent broker/dealers and RIAs, yet share a desire to be part of a larger organization. They’ll come under UAG’s Form ADV, but keep their business identities and branding.
“Each one of them have been working on building this brand for years, decades, some of them are multi-generational even, and now their clients know them by that brand name,” Gettins said. “If they go and make a change, they lose all that momentum. But at the same time, they look at it and say, ‘I can’t get big enough fast enough to be an effective, efficient RIA on my own.’ This is, we think, a creative way of solving both problems.”
UAG advisors will have the option to affiliate with a broker/dealer for commission business, and Gettins said the initial advisors have chosen Silver Oak Securities in Jackson, Tenn.
Advisors will have access to the back office of the RIA, as well as optional add-on services on an a la carte basis.
Gettins said the firm was attracted to Goldman for bringing a full-range of wealth management resources, including lending and banking services, that a lot of other custodians could not.
“They allow us to execute on one of our primary tenets, and that is, you must be the advisor for all of your clients’ assets. And I believe with Goldman Sachs, that’s a broader statement than it can be with any other custodian,” he said.
“We partner best with these growth-focused advisory firms that are looking to enhance their business and, frankly, client outcomes, through what we like to call a ‘digitally-advanced, institutional-grade custody solution,’ the full breadth of services that you would generally expect for the modern day advisor,” said Jeremy Eisenstein, co-head of the RIA custody sales team within Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions. “It’s just another validation point for us, frankly, as we continue to onboard more teams here.”
He pointed to Goldman’s access to alternative investments, its structured note desk and its securities-based lending program, GS Select.
“What’s interesting about it is not just the technology, which certainly is state of the art, it’s also thinking about what comes after that—the lending against things like structured products or other esoteric or, even better, illiquid asset classes,” Eisenstein said.
While Goldman Sachs licenses GS Select to other firms, including some competitors, Goldman’s custody clients have a more flexible version thanks to being embedded inside the business, he added.
“We’ll be looking at other asset classes to lend against, in some of these illiquid assets, private equity, private credit—things of that nature, where we have the ability to differentiate ourselves, given the infrastructure that’s in-house here at Goldman,” he said.
Eisenstein said the UAG team was also lured by Goldman Sachs Investment Research; its analytical tools via the Marquee platform, its digital portal for stock portfolios and research analytics; and the access to institutional trading desks and specialists across asset classes.
Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions has really been leaning into its alternative investments offerings, an asset class many competitors treat more like an accommodation, Eisenstein said.
The firm is currently working on enhancing the advisor experience around alternative investments.
“We’re really focused on streamlining the operational nuances that come with this space,” Eisenstein said. “What I don’t think the rest of the space—whether it be our true custodial competitors or even many vendors—have focused on outside of a true marketplace is the operational nuance.”
He said Goldman was continuing to improve on a "customizable" digital client onboarding tool to ease the process of bringing new advisors, and clients, onto the custodial platform.
“We all know that that is generally a difficult process for firms looking to leave one and join another. We have a new bulk onboarding tool that is super sleek, and it really streamlines everything from account opening to activating bank links, initiating ACATs and so on and so forth.”
The custodian is also working with a yet-to-be-named strategic partner on enhancements to an integrated unified managed account and model manager portfolios.
“We’ll of course be open architecture on the product side, but we certainly will be leaning into certain products on the Goldman Sachs side, and that’s where alternative investments are going to get really, really interesting for us,” he said.
The win for Goldman Sachs' RIA Custody Services follows one earlier this year when a team of advisors led by Margaux Fiori left Raymond James’ independent division to launch their own RIA on Goldman’s custody platform.