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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

The Alliance for RIAs (aRIA) Study Group: The 2013 IA 25 Extended Profile

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This is aRIA’s first appearance on the IA 25. Click here to view the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles for each of the 2013 IA 25 honorees.

Go to any conference where registered investment advisors meet, and it’s clear from the buzz in the room that RIAs like to talk. Only rarely, though, does the subject come up of how much their company is worth.

To break the silence around real enterprise value, a group of six successful RIAs got together last year and committed to sharing their experiences to help the industry build independent firms that are truly sustainable. Called the Alliance for Registered Investment Advisors, or aRIA, this boutique industry association with more than $20 billion in client assets has established itself as a new think tank with a mission to provide intellectual capital and thought leadership to the wealth management community.

ARIA’s group members are a mighty team. They include Matt Cooper, president of Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors, and Neal Simon, CEO of Highline Wealth Management, both of whose firms were selected for AdvisorOne’s 2012 Top Wealth Managers list. Also on the team are industry leaders Brent Brodeski, CEO of Savant Capital; John Burns, principal at Exencial Wealth Management; Ron Carson, CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group; and Jeff Concepcion, CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners.

This year, Brodeski, Carson and Simon were selected to Barron’s Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors, noted John Furey, principal at Advisor Growth Strategies LLC (AGS), who serves as aRIA’s managing member. Everyone in the group are in their 40s and solidly midpoint in seasoned careers, with no plans to sell and certainly no plans to retire any time soon.

“We’re all in it to build long-term sustainable businesses,” said Furey, a former director of strategic business development at Schwab Institutional. “As an industry, we don’t talk enough about who’s doing transactions and deals. Our group is doing deals, and then we’re sharing our knowledge for free with the industry. We’re walking our talk because transactions are happening, and we’re proud of that.”

One such deal involves Newport Beach, Calif.-based Beacon Pointe’s recent addition of Independent Financial Advisors, a Riverside, Calif., RIA with $100 million of assets under management. Representing Beacon Pointe’s fourth RIA rollup in just four months, the deal highlights a partnership model that places a premium on long-term growth and sustainability, Furey said.

Indie advisors face the hazards of fee compression, erosion of margins and recruitment challenges, along with low market valuation and limited liquidity, which is why aRIA’s members took it upon themselves to write a series of white papers to tackle those topics. In just one year, the group has published four papers, starting with the first title, Creating Value and Certainty Within Your Independent Advisory Firm.”

Coming up next: more on the intellectual capital front, said Furey, noting that aRIA in the next year plans to offer case studies that show how advisors can boost their value.

“The definition of breakaway will be completely changed,” he said when asked to identify the advisor industry’s biggest trends going forward. “The future will be more advisors in transition, period. In the past, independents’ growth has come at the expense of wirehouses. Now we believe that the competition will come from within the independent channel.”