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Small FAs Pick Up Global Clients Where Wirehouses Fall Away

By Thomas Coyle April 13, 2016

Dynasty Financial Partners sees a growth opportunity in helping independent RIAs attract and retain international wealth management clients and globally-minded U.S. counterparts.

To back this play, New York based Dynasty, an infrastructure provider to nearly 40 financial advice firms, has established an international division and roped in a brokerage that specializes in custody, trading and back-office services for multi-jurisdiction investors.

“A lot of U.S.-based advisors are global in orientation,” says Javier Rivero, a recent hire who leads Dynasty’s international initiative from a new office in Coral Gables, Fla. “And with the wirehouses pulling back to focus on the U.S. market, it is igniting a lot of wirehouse advisors to go independent.”

Last year, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch – the biggest of the four wirehouses – revamped their international wealth businesses to focus on more profitable clients and less restrictive jurisdictions. Both firms also set new minimum-investment hurdles.

But just last month, Morgan Stanley said it would this year add 75 advisors to serve Latin American clients from the U.S.

As a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, Florida is a hotspot for international wealth management, says Rivero. But he stresses his team will be working with advisors who cater to offshore clients from locations throughout the U.S. — “in Texas, New York, the West Coast, Chicago; really everywhere.”

And, he says, these FAs work with clients who hail from all parts of the globe.

Day to day, Rivero — who joined Dynasty last month from Brickell Global Markets, where he was president — will help teams with an international focus decide if partnering with Dynasty makes sense, vet vendors and service providers that can help Dynasty network advisors support their international clients and help network FAs make the most of international opportunities.

One such relationship that’s already in place is Miami-based Global Investor Services, a broker-dealer for international clients.

In fact, the first avowedly international firm to sign on with Dynasty, Premia Global Advisors, works from a GIS branch office in Coral Gables, Fla., as an independent affiliate.

Miguel Sosa

That small firms are getting into multi-jurisdiction wealth management comes as no surprise to Michael Zeuner, one of three managing directors of New York- and Miami-based WE Family Offices.

“Families are starting to understand they want access to international products and services,” says Zeuner, whose firm advises on about $5.5 billion. And these clients don’t take kindly to big banks — “which in some cases they’ve worked with for 30 or 40 years” — ending relationships because a family is domiciled someplace the bank happens to have redlined.

Premia’s Miguel Sosa, who was employed by Merrill until January, says clients with investments or operating businesses in different countries are more open to independent practitioners than he’d hoped.

“They don’t always disclose who else they’re working with,” Sosa says of some of his clients. “So we didn’t know how many already had independent-advisor relationships.”

As it turns out, however, many were familiar and comfortable with the idea of an indie advisor, says Sosa, who managed about $400 million when he was with Merrill.

“There’s definitely a groundswell,” adds Sosa. “As the way large institutions address the needs of global clients changes, clients are looking for advisors they can trust. And then come the details” around such things as firm size and affiliation.

Rivero agrees.

In this environment, he says, global wealth management is bound to be increasingly fertile ground for smart independents — and for firms like his employer and GIS that can help would-be international FAs.