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Steward Partners Adds Four Teams and $700M in 30 Days

Steward's multicustodial model is resonating with new teams in the Southeast region.

Steward Partners Global Advisory, an employee-owned, hybrid partnership of independent advisory firms based in New York, has added four teams with a combined $700 million in client assets to its platform over the last month.

Last week, the firm opened a 1099 partnership with its first team on the new Pershing custodial platform. H.L. Wiginton Capital Management, a four-person practice led by Mike Wiginton, brings around $220 million to Steward from Cambridge Investment Research Advisors.

Three days later, Clarity Private Wealth Solutions, a Mobile, Ala.-based firm with approximately $250 million in assets, joined Steward, using Raymond James as its custodian.

The latest additions came less than a month after two others, one of which was completed just days earlier.

“We’ve had a pretty good start to the year,” said Jeff Gonyo, head of recruiting and president of Steward’s Southeast division. “I'm not sure we'll see that every week, but we are going to have some weeks like that. We expect to see a pretty big flow through the pipeline over the next two to three months.”

Launched in 2013, Steward moved to a multicustodial model last year after the firm brought brokerage and registrations in-house; Managing Director Greg Banasz told that the shift had unleashed a deluge of new recruits.

The addition of Pershing was completed in the fall, while efforts to add Goldman Sachs have been delayed since Steward was announced as its first RIA custody client in 2021. Since then, Goldman has slowed its rollout of the new channel and added several other firms ahead of Steward.

“We continue to work with Goldman Sachs and their team to have an option available,” Banasz said. “We are optimistic this will happen at some point; however, we are not putting a timeline on the rollout.”

“We are really excited about having two industry-leading custody providers and platforms to work with to give advisors the best solution and what fits for them,” said Gonyo. He has been focused on expanding Steward’s regional footprint in the Southeast, where all four of the new practices are located.

Clarity is also “really excited about the model,” according to Managing Partner John Ferguson, who came to Steward from Wells Fargo. “The wirehouse environment has been a wonderful training ground, but it lacks so much in terms of flexibility and freedom to be creative and run your business in a way that I think clients need and want.”

Ferguson said he and his partner, Director Charles Bailey, felt Steward represented the best of two worlds, “One, a culture of partnership and a smaller, more nimble company that’s going to provide the best technology and tools we need to run our practice. But we’ll also have the support of the custodial relationships and be able to offer clients a true open architecture experience where we have not necessarily been able to do that in the past.”

Clarity is particularly looking forward to leveraging Steward’s technology stack and reporting tools integrated on the Black Diamond platform, he said.

Clarity works with business owners, corporate executives, retirees, professional athletes and nonprofits. In addition to Ferguson and Bailey, the team includes Senior Registered Client Associate Kellie Thompson.

In addition to Clarity, Kurt Killingsworth has also joined from Morgan Stanley as a partner in Steward’s Henderson, N.C., office with $170 million in assets, while Sean Hingley assumed the role of vice president in Norfolk, Va., with $50 million, joining from Wells Fargo.

“With four successful transitions and nearly $700 million in new assets in the 30 days, Steward Partners is off to a dynamic start in 2023,” Steward CEO Jim Gold said in a statement Monday. “Our leadership team is meeting with potential new partners almost daily. With the launch of our broker/dealer and the addition of Pershing custodial services, combined with increased demand for our affiliate option, we are preparing for another record year in recruiting and revenue for the partnership.”

Cynosure Group became Steward’s first private equity backer with a minority stake 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 in-house, allowing multiple custodian relationships and expanding investment opportunities.

In the fall of 2022, the firm secured a $140 million credit facility led by alternative investment firm Apogem Capital, with funding from Manulife Investment Management and Cynosure Investment Partners, a private credit fund managed by Cynosure Group. The capital is expected to fund ongoing recruitment and platform investments, while Gold has plans to add new custodial partners.

“We’re seeing a lot of forward traction with Pershing,” said Gonyo. “Generally, when a new partner's coming on, we'll tell them to pick a lane and figure out which firm feels best and what platform is going to support their clients and how they do business. But if there's something that's not there, we have an outlet to allow you the multicustodial opportunity and we have the technology platform to support it.”

Clarity’s Ferguson fully expects to leverage that flexibility when it comes to alternative investing. “We have the ability to custody most of our assets at Raymond James, but we know we’ll need Pershing for their alternative capabilities,” he said. “And to be able to bring all that together for clients in Black Diamond in a way that they can get their arms around how their assets interact with each other, how they're diversified, how they're performing—we’re really excited about that.”

Currently Steward manages approximately $26 billion in assets and has plans to double in size over the coming two to three years, according to Gonyo. The firm is actively pursuing M&A deals and adding the ability to bring RIA-only advisors onto the platform in 2023, something he expects will unlock a significant number of additional opportunities.

“We have some big teams coming through,” he said of the next three months. “What’s been great about our partnership is that a lot of that has come from internal referrals. It’s really a team effort across the board.”

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