Breakaway Team Ibis Shares 2-Step Growth Strategy

It pays to look at traditional and non-traditional sources of revenue, the ex-wirehouse group says

Ryan Clive-Smith (left), Neil McNeil and Robert Meyer at their Ibis Capital office in San Diego. Ryan Clive-Smith (left), Neil McNeil and Robert Meyer at their Ibis Capital office in San Diego.

It’s been two years since a group of advisors broke away from Morgan Stanley (MS), formed Ibis Capital in San Diego and began working with LPL Financial (LPLA)-affililated Stratos Wealth Partners, which serves as the team's RIA.

After going through the usual transition steps, the Ibis Capital team says it has been focused on growing its business, in some expected and also surprising ways.

 “We got here with about $240 million or so in assets, and now have about $300 million, said Ryan Clive-Smith, head of business development for Ibis Capital.

The other two advisors on the team are Neil McNeil and Robert Meyer. 

“Yes, the market growth in 2012-2013 contributed to this jump, but that represents about $20 million. The rest, $40 million, is from new asset acquisitions,” Clive-Smith explained in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

How did the team achieve this growth target? First, it kept its focus on its main business strategy or target market.

“Our goal is to work with individual business owners considering selling or transitioning their businesses with specific estate and financial planning needs,” Clive-Smith said.

“This way," he added, "once we’ve done our work and when they move out of the business, they can keep most of their sale or transition proceeds in their pockets.”

In general, its clients run closely held businesses with about $5 million to $30 million in yearly sales. They operate in real-estate development, property management, construction, ship building or niche services, like traffic management.

New Growth Path

Its second expansion strategy came not on the retail side, but on the institutional end of the wealth management business. As the advisors with Ibis Capital and RIA partner Stratos Wealth got to know each one another, new opportunities emerged.

“We are also part of the internal asset management team at Stratos, which gives us access to some 170 advisor partners," Clive-Smith said. "We’ve reached out to them and vice versa.”

Soon, Ibis Capital’s talents as investment managers attracted lots of attention.

“It all really came together after Stratos found our algorithms and ETF-based quant portfolio models interesting and attractive to their advisor partners,” said the Ibis founding partner.

The Ibis team was asked to be part of Stratos’ investment committee and apply its asset management solutions to client portfolios across the partnership. In other words, it had direct access to a new line of asset management business.

“It’s a good add-on to our retail business, and we’re glad this new line of business has become a reality. We’ve collaborated with Stratos, and our business has grown significantly.”

Without the jump to independence and aligning itself with a new business partner, such expansion might not have happened. And the team is now looking forward to finding other untapped business as the partnership matures. 

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