Orion Advisor Solutions just passed the $1 trillion mark for assets under administration on its platform. It’s also nearing the five-year anniversary of its acquisition by TA Associates.
But with that private equity milestone comes talk that TA Associates could be selling its stake, according to a recent report from Barron’s. Orion CEO Eric Clarke isn’t sweating it, given the growing strength of the independent advisor channel and increasing interest in firms that serve this market segment.
“There’s lots of talk about the next deal. We saw Envestnet and MoneyGuidePro consolidate, and then Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade,” Clarke said in an interview Friday (as a bad winter storm approached Omaha, where he is based). “With all this activity, everyone asks what’s next, and this one [involving Orion] might be next.”
As PE and other investors look at financial services, the independent fiduciary space “is really exciting and growing,” he added. “It has good tailwinds behind it and is moving to where the puck is going. That means firms want to know how they can invest in it.”
“The independent fiduciary [channel] is growing faster than any other segment of the advisory business,” he said.
“Naturally, it’s had lots of capital flowing into it …,” Clarke said. “We’ve benefited from partnering with one of the biggest private equity firms … in terms of resources and strategic capital needed to grow the business and independent fiduciary advisors in the process.”
With consolidation and other pressures creating the race to zero in trading fees and competitive pricing, independent advisors are “set up to win in two areas” this year, Clarke says.
First, they can win over more prospective clients by offering them access to a custodial platform with zero trading fees and more innovative portfolios than some of their more captive, broker-dealer based counterparts.