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Steward Partners co-founder and CEO Jim Gold
Steward Partners co-founder and CEO Jim Gold

Steward Adds Third Breakaway to Pershing Platform

As its multicustodial strategy bears fruit, Steward Partners has recruited Ensign Wealth Partners from Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, bringing the firm's total assets with Pershing to over $1 billion.

Steward Partners Global Advisory, an employee-owned partnership of independent advisory firms, has added Ensign Wealth Partners, a four-person team in Farmington, Utah, with nearly $500 million in client assets. Ensign Wealth Partners was previously with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network.

The team is the third breakaway to come onto Steward’s BNY Mellon | Pershing custodial platform in the past two months, bringing Steward’s total assets with Pershing to $1 billion.

Steward moved toward a multicustodial model in 2021 when it announced they had built an onramp to be Goldman Sachs’ first RIA custodial client. Prior to that, Raymond James had long been its sole custodian.

Last November, Steward added Pershing as a custodian. H.L. Wiginton Capital Management, a four-person team with around $220 million, joined earlier this year from Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, becoming the first team to join on the Pershing platform.

Jim Gold, CEO and co-founder of Steward, said a multicustodial platform provides advisors with options appropriate for their firm. Of the six teams that have joined Steward so far this year, three have chosen Raymond James and three have gone with Pershing.

“I think this is what we expected as a normal cadence is each custodial will appeal to different advisors, and this gives them the decision to make a choice versus us having a single custodian and trying to make that choice work for them,” he said. “And sometimes that wasn't possible.”

The two custodians are structurally different, he added. Pershing brings a large banking organization with BNY Mellon, and the firm may appeal to advisors who see benefits in associating with the New York–based wealth management firm.

Launched in 2013 with one advisor and around $100 million in assets under management, Steward has since grown to more than $26 billion in client assets across more than 350 partners, primarily through the recruitment of breakaway wirehouse advisors.

But the makeup of recruited teams has started to change. Gold said two of the six teams that joined this year have come from independent broker/dealers.

Steward is currently working on offering an affiliation model where advisors can drop their FINRA license and solely do advisory business under the firm’s RIA. While the firm has advisors that are only fee-based, they hold FINRA licenses.

Building a multicustodial platform has “opened up the floodgates” for recruiting, said Chief Marketing Officer Greg Banasz, and much of the investment Steward has raised over the past few years will go toward recruiting new teams

Cynosure Group became Steward’s first private equity backer when it took a minority stake in the firm in 2019. 

In 2021, The Pritzker Organization invested $100 million, while Steward added the 1099 affiliation model and completed its only mergers and acquisitions deal to date. The same year, the firm purchased Umpqua Investments and brought brokerage services in-house, opening the platform to multiple custodians and more investment options.

In the fall of 2022, the firm got a $140 million credit facility led by alternative investment firm Apogem Capital, with funding from Manulife Investment Management and a private credit fund run by investor Cynosure Group.

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