Doug Kentfield is the President, Head of Wealth Management at Steward Partners Global Advisory, with over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. He started his career as a financial advisor with E.F. Hutton before moving into branch management with Shearson and Smith Barney. Doug became a Divisional Director for Smith Barney and then Divisional Director for successor firm Morgan Stanley, where he had responsibility for over 5,000 Advisors. For more information, please go to Recognition: Steward Partners

Russ Alan Prince: Steward Partners was launched nine years ago. How has the firm evolved as a home for advisors looking for supported independence? 

Doug Kentfield: Steward Partners Global Advisory launched in September 2013 with one advisor in the Washington, DC market. Since then, we have enjoyed tremendous growth from our 350 partners in 30 locations throughout the United States. Of those partners, nearly 200 are financial advisors who currently provide advice on over $25 billion in client assets. Over these nine years, we have enjoyed multiple awards and recognition such as “Best Places to Work” and “Fastest Growing Companies.” In 2021, we ranked #20 in Barron’s top 100 RIAs in America list. 

In April 2021, Steward Partners added our own broker/dealer to the platform by closing on the successful acquisition of Umpqua Investments, which we renamed Steward Partners Investment Solutions. The acquisition also facilitated our planned expansion into the Pacific Northwest and added another 22 financial advisors managing $3.4 billion in client assets generating $16 million in revenue to the Steward Partners’ roster. 

As we continue our existing relationship with Raymond James and their RIA & Custody Services Division, our CEO, Jim Gold, and COO, Hy Saporta made the strategic decision to expand our offering to a multi-custodial business model that will provide our advisors with a choice of custody, clearing, and other specialized services with Steward Partners Investment Solutions as the foundation. We will be announcing more news on that front in the near future.

Today, we let potential partners know that Steward Partners offers “Independence with Infrastructure.” Many potential partners we talk to want the benefits of independence but without all the headaches that come with setting up their own shop. We have developed the infrastructure to provide a step-by-step approach to set up a branch, transition your practice, expand your brand and grow your business without all the distractions of doing it yourself.

Finally, a major contributor to our evolution has been the development of Steward Partners’ unique business model. Advisors who join Steward Partners are truly partners who not only own their own businesses but also have an equity stake in the parent company. As a firm, we are committed to the proposition that Steward Partners can only be successful as a true partnership where all the partners share in that success. To help advisors achieve that success, we have a menu of local and national resources available we are always excited to present.

Prince: Once wirehouse advisors make the transition to independence how does Steward Partners help them with succession planning? 

Kentfield: Putting their clients’ best interests before their own has always made succession planning an important consideration for advisors. It will be an even larger issue in the next few years as more wealth management professionals and firm founders retire. We currently have a formal advisor retirement process that details the advisor or team who will acquire the practice, strategy, and communication regarding client retention, the economics involved with a transition, and the timing of the event. 

In addition, we actively recruit candidates who are looking for potential succession partners. We act as a matchmaker initiating preliminary discussions where both parties can explore the potential fit given their business model, investment style, and clientele. We can also help facilitate the funding of the transaction and work with the incoming advisor and their new Steward partner to structure succession terms and a seamless merger of the client base. 

Prince: What is on the horizon for Steward Partners for the remainder of the year and beyond? 

Kentfield: The future for Steward Partners looks very bright as we grow and evolve as a company. We will continue to develop our platform and provide best-of-breed technology, investment solutions, and other resources to our advisor partners. We are currently at a pivotal moment in the history of the advisory profession for several reasons. 

  • The continued momentum of the successful advisor’s flight to independence is still high
  • Advisors want more control of ownership of their practices
  • More marketing, branding, and business building options
  • Reputation and culture of their firm
  • Retirement and succession plans for advisors and teams

Additionally, Steward Partners is well-positioned to participate in the industry’s current M&A activity as more and more firm founders and industry pioneers are looking to sell all or part of their practices as they move toward retirement. There’s been a lot of movement in this space in the last few years, but it seems obvious that there’s still a lot more to come. 

Even with recent moves by the Fed, interest rates are still low, and capital is readily available, making it easy to raise funds for acquisitions. In our own case, we’ve secured substantial investments from Cynosure and The Pritzker Organization, which will support the continued expansion of our network into additional markets and allow us to take advantage of M&A opportunities as they arise. However, finding a willing seller and having the capital to complete the transaction is not enough; we’re much more interested in finding the right partners who can help Steward Partners grow over the long term versus buying an advisory firm at a bargain price. 

RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine ( and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius ( He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.