In a business environment of accelerating change, financial advisor professionals need to regularly review and rethink every aspect of their business – their business model, operations, client engagement strategies, product/service mix, and branding/marketing approach. A valuable perspective to acknowledge is that while rapid business change is unsettling, it also can be an opportunity. It pushes you, helps you grow as a professional, and can enhance your competitive positioning in the industry - if you are proactive and strategic about it.
It is important to realize that financial advisors have been on a steadily growing momentum going from a sales practice mentality to a profession, from large investment firms to agile independent boutiques. The COV-19 pandemic environment has also further catapulted firms farther down this evolutionary path. There are many new and evolving options and resources today to help explore more competitive growth, strategic acquisition, and flexible succession planning strategies.
To explore this further, we decided to reach out to Joel Burris, President & Managing Partner of GCG Wealth Management – a Charlotte-based independent, regional financial services firm which recently launched GCG Advisory Partners. This new division was established to fill the gap for advisors between full-service investment firms and the full-liability business owner. They are dedicated to helping facilitate acquisition and succession planning for established advisors in this changing business environment. In this interview, we wanted to explore their industry perspectives and learn how they are developing a new business platform to help direct advisors into the changing nature of the financial services industry.
Hortz: Can you share your perspectives on the current state of the financial services industry and why you decided to launch GCG Advisory Partners?
Burris: Being in the industry for 20 years, I have had the privilege of seeing many facets of a financial advisor’s professional work environment. From the large name firms to the independent boutiques to the small mom and pop shops, I have had opportunities to spend time with advisors who live in each of these environments. I have taken what I feel is the value add from the wirehouses by building out an experienced management team committed to financial technology, taking the family approach to culture from the small shops, and the open architecture of the independent world, to create what I feel is a perfect balance of experienced leadership armed with technology, the freedom to ask the questions “why not” instead of “why”, and encompass this in a culture of a work hard, play hard mentality by surrounding ourselves with intelligent professionals who we know will fight with us, and not against us.
From our industry research, we have discovered that there is a substantial need for advisors who are in the sunset stage of their career to find the right partner as a succession plan for their clients. GCG Advisory Partners was created to facilitate a customized continuity & succession plan for an advisor’s practice through a flexible restructuring. We can structure an advisor’s practice in a way where he or she can continue to work as partners for their clients through the GCG platform, while being supported by a robust advisory system streamlined for the growth and longevity of the business.
Hortz: What are the specific value propositions you offer advisors?
Burris: We deliver an advisory platform and a more modern business model that offers a compelling combination of FinTech technology, practice management resources, marketing assistance, and strategic capital support, along with the operational autonomy for an advisor to chart their own desired path to independence and/or continuity or succession planning. Our umbrella platform allows advisors to take advantage of a 'home office-like' infrastructure while benefiting from the freedom and independence of the business owner.
Hortz: How did you specifically design your advisor platform and services to motivate advisors to adjust their current business strategies?
Burris: The big picture is providing all the benefits and economics a financial advisor would reap by going truly independent except, they don’t need to take on any of the additional stress or risk that can also come with a fully independent practice. At the same time, an advisor can substantially increase their income when they leave a wire-house, while not losing any resources due to our FinTech Partnership advisory platform.
As for advisors who wish to sell or monetize their business, we actively seek out these opportunities. We can monetize or buy their practice - and either keep the advisor on and continue to provide a payout so they can sell and stay (a win/win) or formulate a succession plan. We don’t force them into retirement.
We can also buy the business and transition it to their junior partner if that partner can’t afford to buy it themselves which gives an advisor everything they want - which is to get full value for their business but also choose their own successor to work with their clients. Then, we continue to employ that junior rep and provide him or her a payout on the book.
We also help other advisors facilitate acquisitions of books of business and help them get financing for a book if they want to buy it themselves.
Hortz: Why did you develop your advisory services into a holistic and integrated financial service approach?
Burris: We want to focus on helping our advisors grow their practice by upgrading their operations so they can competitively address the High Net Worth & wealth management needs of their clients. That is why our platform and support services strategically integrates resources which includes personal CFO and other lifestyle and generational services.
By way of illustration, we use the symbol of the bonsai tree to signify the stages of life that intertwine to create balance. We strive to find the equilibrium in every area of your clients’ financial life, through expected milestones or unanticipated events. Like the Bonsai Tree, we are calculated and precise and grow with intention. We want to be the framework that supports the advisor’s competitive positioning and legacy.
Hortz: Any final thoughts you want to share with advisors?
Burris: Bottom line, our mission is to ultimately let our financial partners find balance in the ongoing struggle between being a financial advisor and an entrepreneur.
GCG Advisory Partners provides holistic financial strategies, technology, practice management support, office space and staff, at no expense to advisors looking to transition to independence and be able to hit the ground running in an efficient and competitive manner.
We additionally help facilitate succession and acquisition planning for advisors through attractive buys outs, maintaining the profitability of the practice, and retaining the advisor over an agreed upon transition period.
We welcome advisors looking for support in these areas to explore how we can partner with you to be your middle office, back office and business manager while you build the unique value of your business.