In the current age of consolidation and electronic communication, some financial advisors are finding it more important to branch out for more face-to-face time with clients and more involvement in the communities where they practice. That means opening branch offices instead of trying to do everything from one headquarters.
Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC, Jersey City, N.J., in a new white paper explores ways advisors can expand their business by opening satellite offices.
"There is no sure-fire strategy for success for expanding. An advisor has to have a clear reason why he wants to open a branch office," says Kim Dellarocca, director of Global Marketing for Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company.
Some reasons to consider branching out are to create a dominant brand across a region or to open opportunities to acquire clients in a new location.
"If you already have a network of clients in another region, you can use them for referrals" to make a branch office profitable, she says. "It is also a great way to recruit new talent."
A key to making the expansion successful is to create a plan to guide the expansion so the firm can take advantage of economies of scale and not duplicate services that can be done at the headquarters location, the white paper says. Advisors who have tried a variety of types of expansions for different reasons and have been successful agree.
Jim Pratt Heany, one of four founding partners of LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC, based in Westport, Conn., jumped across the country to open satellites in Beverly Hills and San Diego. For LLBH, the offices are in the homes of two partners and in an upscale hotel, but may become more permanent in the future.
The move was made because of a partner's connections in Hollywood, which opened up doors to attract more clients, Heany says.
For Scot J. Madson, president of Navigator Planning Group in Green Bay, Wis., the manner of the expansion was the key to success. He had the opportunity to acquire firms that were closing both in 2006 and 2008 and by doing so opened offices north of Green Bay. He is about to do the same in a location south of his headquarters.
"It was the hand-off from an established business that helped us become successful in the new locations where we already had some clients and saw room for growth," Madson says. The offices are open one day a week and more if necessary.
Mayflower Advisors in Boston wanted to expand to the suburbs in part because they dealt with business owners there who wanted to see a physical presence for their financial advisors.
"We also opened in Westborough (Mass.) because it is the crossroads of New England and allows us to establish a regional presence," says Larry Glazer, managing partner, who feels the timing is right to make expansions. "You do not lose money expanding in bad times; you lose money expanding in good times and then being forced to close in bad times."
Jeff Motske, president of Trilogy Financial Services, started in Irvine, Calif., in 1999 has yet another reason for opening branches and is about to open the firm's 11th in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"I like leveraging my time and training others," he says, "and this is a great way to attract quality advisors into our environment."
Whatever the reasons or circumstances for expansion, it is important to train management to carry the culture of the original firm to the new locations, the white paper says.
"Internal communications is important so that no one on the staff feels out of touch," Dellarocca says. "Then the service offering has to accommodate the needs of the clients in that region."