The independent fiduciary model is more attractive to the richest advisory clients than the wirehouse prototype, according to executives of registered investment advisor firms in Dynasty Financial Partners network.

After all, the independent model aligns with the interests of high-net-worth and ultra-HNW clients, according to Gordon Ross, director of the Dynasty enterprise group. Ross and Dynasty’s relationship management team are responsible for the ongoing partnerships with the network’s advisors.

“If you think about what bigger clients want, it’s normally around more flexibility, more customization and having an array of resources available to you. That naturally lends itself more to the independent world,” he said.

Plain and simple

Chuck Cooper, managing partner at StrongBox Wealth, a Lee’s Summit, Missouri-based RIA firm in Dynasty’s network, said his team knew that its ability to work with wealthy clients “would be better enabled by our independence, plain and simple.”

Chuck Cooper
Wealthy clients “typically have more complex needs” when it comes to tax and income sequencing as well as risk mitigation, for example, according to Cooper. As an independent firm, StrongBox can better meet those needs when building and managing portfolios on their behalf, he says.

Cooper is speaking from experience. He had a 26-year history of working at wirehouse and broker-dealer firms before founding StrongBox in August 2019. He started in the industry in 1993, when he registered with Edward Jones, then moved to A. G. Edwards & Sons in 1997, and then was registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services in 2003 until August last year, according to his BrokerCheck record.

StrongBox’s existing HNW clients, who had been with the advisors prior to setting up the firm, have increased their principal assets with the firm by nearly 25% in the two years since the firm was founded, according to Cooper. That’s in the form of cash/securities transferred in to existing accounts or through establishing new accounts within the same household, he says.

Cooper says that, on average, StrongBox’s existing ultra-HNW clients have more than doubled their principal assets with the firm over the same two-year period.

StrongBox has 325 household clients with around $356 million in assets, according to Cooper. Nearly half of those households, or 48%, are classified as HNW, Cooper says. Eighty-four percent of StrongBox’s total managed assets are from HNW clients, or clients with more than $750,000 in assets at the firm, he adds.

Conflict-free reputation

Wealthy clients are also drawn to the independent model because they perceive it as being conflict-free, says Matt Liebman, founding partner and chief executive officer at Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based RIA firm Amplius Wealth Advisors, which is also in Dynasty’s network.

Matt Liebman
“Whereas we always thought of ourselves as putting the client’s interest first, this business model, with its absence of conflicts — or far fewer, at least — is just appealing to people,” he said.

Liebman was registered with wirehouses for 16 years before Amplius was launched in February 2021. He was at UBS from 2000 to 2004 and then at Merrill Lynch from 2008 to March this year, according to his BrokerCheck record.

His core team members at Amplius were previously registered with Merrill Lynch, according to their BrokerCheck records. That includes Amplius founding partner and chairman Samuel Liebman, Matthew's father; founding partner and chief strategy officer Aaron Marks and vice president of wealth planning Patrick Swift.

The younger Liebman says that Amplius has onboarded 10 new HNW families as clients, which is nearly every new client the firm has onboarded since its launch. The firm also has up to 10 other active referrals of HNW clients still in the prospect phase, he says.

Leading up to the launch of Amplius, the team focused on its stronger client relationships that “tend to skew a bit larger,” and those clients have introduced the firm to larger HNW prospects, according to Liebman.

Do you have a news tip you’d like to share with FA-IQ? Email us at editorial@financialadvisoriq.com.