David DeVoe, advisor M&A consultant. David DeVoe, advisor M&A consultant.

M&A specialist David DeVoe started off his G2 Forum in Miami Beach on Monday by asking attendees to stop putting clients first — at least for a while — and focus instead on employees.

“By putting your employees first, and creating happy, focused and motivated employees, you will in turn generate the very best client service in the marketplace,” DeVoe of DeVoe & Co. told ThinkAdvisor in an interview after his prepared remarks. “If you have happy employees, you’ll have happy clients. That’s the construct” that firms like Southwest Airlines, Marriott International and Virgin Group have implemented.

The approach involves “turning things upside down to say: If we create the happiest and most effective employees, in turn the clients will be best served.”

RIAs of any size can do it too, DeVoe said.

Of the two ways to optimally support clients, the industry has generally adopted the client-focused approach, DeVoe explained. “Another approach is founded on the concept that if you focus on your employees and you invest aggressively … they will deliver that optimal client service.”

If an RIA did choose to move toward and employee-first model, DeVoe said, it involves “philosophical as well as technical changes to the organization. But ultimately, the outcome and goals are similar to the RIAs today — i.e., those that implement an employee-first strategy are doing it because they believe that’s the very best way to serve clients.”

The one-day DeVoe G2 Forum (G2 is industry lingo for next-generation leader) is a pre-conference to the MarketCounsel Summit, taking place Monday through Wednesday in Miami Beach.

What’s New in M&A?

“The proliferation of capital is pretty new,” DeVoe said in the interview. “We’ve seen more innovation and entrants in the last 15 months than we’ve seen in the last 15 years. I think the industry has yet to absorb it. Some of the industry aren’t aware of all of the different capital and millennium providers and options in the marketplace, and innovation that’s occurred. And those that are closer to it are actually overwhelmed — from SBA to conventional to passive capital to new revenue participation.”

On the Schwab/TD Ameritrade Deal …

“I think overall it’s a smart move for Schwab,” DeVoe said. “It’s going to unlock a lot of scale and cost efficiencies. It’ll be interesting to see the focus on the smaller advisors. Schwab had concentrated more energy on the mid- and large-size advisors and TD has been doing a great job with the smaller advisor, and that may well be a great complimentary fit to give them [the combined company] a strong value proposition and effective pricing for all parts of the market.”