Marketing and business development, long considered the bane of independent wealth managers, suddenly seem to be at the top of the industry’s “to-do” list.
Just last week, Dynasty Financial Partners, one of the hottest companies in the wealth management business, launched a new subsidiary, Dynasty Marketing Services, that will offer advisors branding, strategic support, public relations, web design and turnkey marketing material.
In the spring, Charles Goldman, who has headed the RIA custody units of both Charles Schwab & Co and Fidelity Investments, and Steve Lockshin, who founded both Convergent Wealth Advisors, a $10 billion RIA, and Fortigent, a leading outsourcer, rolled out Advizent, a co-op for high-end advisors that is being set up to provide sophisticated marketing under the umbrella of a national brand for its members.
Boutique independents are stepping up their game as well. Tiedemann Wealth Management in New York, for example, recently hired Jennifer Mitchell, a former managing director at JP Morgan Private Bank, to head up the firm’s new business development and client services initiatives.
Mitchell’s challenge - “the lack of name recognition and branding” - applies to all independent firms, and has helped spark the sudden surge of interest in marketing. Indeed, one of the major disadvantages independent firms have traditionally had when competing against large multi-national financial service behemoths has been not only the lack of name recognition, but the lack of a budget to establish one.
Wealth managers have had to suffer in silence as year after year the massive marketing budgets of the Merrill Lynches and Morgan Stanleys of the world guarantee them a place at the table, no matter how damaging the latest embarrassing news story about a particular firm may be.
By contrast, wealth managers, no matter how pristine their reputations may be, simply don’t have the scale to mount an effective campaign to let people outside of their local “circle of influence” know who they are and what they do.