Tim Davis of Steward Partners Tim Davis of Steward Partners

After almost 20 years in the business — the bulk of it at wirehouses — Tim Davis made the leap to an RIA nearly a year ago.

Davis, who had stints at Merrill Lynch, UBS and Morgan Stanley, is now managing director and partner at the Davis Executive Wealth Management Group within Steward Partners. Steward, an independent practice affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services, is a $10 billion RIA with about 100 advisors around the country.

Davis opened up to ThinkAdvisor about his transition from wirehouse to independence — and how in less than a year at Steward his total assets are up more than 20%.

Davis said he had “plateaued” as a wirehouse financial advisor.

“Based upon the tightening noose that these big banks have, there’s fewer and fewer choices for both clients and advisors, [and] the constrictions upon how you run your business become such that it’s a hindrance for efficiently running your business on a day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year basis,” Davis said. “And the question becomes ultimately to the advisor and their practice, ‘Can I do this somewhere else better?”

As Davis found, he certainly could.

Davis joined Steward Partners in October 2017 and as of July 31 his business has grown 25%.

He cites the independent structure of Steward — compared with the more rigid operation of wirehouses like Morgan Stanley — as one of the reasons for this growth.

“The ability to have the flexibility to manage my own team members was much more limited at Morgan Stanley than it is at Steward Partners,” Davis said. “At Steward Partners, I am in complete control of all the members of my team … I call my own shots, whereas that’s never going to happen at a wirehouse.”

Steward gave him the resources and time to restructure his team. According to Davis, that flexibility helped increase efficiencies and freed up more time for him to spend with clients and prospects, which in turn drove assets up.

Another contributor to his business’ growth was Davis’ smooth transition from wirehouse to Steward.

According to Davis, just over two months after the start of the transition, he and his team managed to move 100% of the business over to Steward Partners and Raymond James. Whereas, according to Davis, the average transition has around 80-85% moved over in the first year.

Davis attributes this smooth transition to his team members, Michaelyn Bortolotti and Michael Carilli.

“For two months, my team came in at 8 [a.m.] and left at 11 [p.m.],” Davis said.

The first weekend, they all rented a hotel across the street.

“We made sure that we basically slept in the office for three days,” he said. “That level of dedication — and that’s what it is — it really shows to your clients that the first 36 hours, first 48 hours, first 72 hours are very important. This is when people need you the most, because temporarily you’re in limbo as the transition is happening.”

The other thing that helped with the transition was a lot of preparation.

According to Davis, he and his team started preparing for this moment three years prior, which involved a lot of investigation and vetting of potential firms. After a year or two of vetting, Davis said, it became “very clear” that Steward Partners was the firm that made the most sense for Davis, his business and his clients.

From there, Davis and his team were able to prepare for the transition for well over a year.

“That is probably the primary reason we had such a successful transition when we moved our business because we were very well prepared for what we were getting ourselves into,” he said. “The decision wasn’t made in haste. It was not made without very methodical planning.”

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