“We don’t have a specific asset minimum, but if you look at a standard fee schedule, you could equate a $5,000 fee to $500,000 in assets,” says Brian King, Plancorp’s chief planning officer. “We do have clients who choose to begin working with us when they have less than $500,000 because they want the value of the planning services.”

In 1995, Plancorp became a founding member of the Zero Alpha Group, a coalition of advisors dedicated to goals-based financial planning and investment methods embracing efficiency and transparency. Zero Alpha Group members share investment information and discuss business strategy, holding one another to high standards of objectivity, transparency and accountability. By working together, members are able to negotiate lower costs and premium services for their clients.

When Buckner founded Plancorp 35 years ago, his goal was to serve affluent professionals with a new kind of advice that emphasized financial planning over investing. Today, Plancorp has more than $4 billion in assets under management, nearly $3 billion of which has been brought onto its platforms since 2005, managed by approximately 60 staff members in four offices scattered among three states.

In the firm’s first few years, Plancorp offered financial planning and nothing more—the firm didn’t start managing assets until after 1990. “All we did in the beginning was financial planning, and in our minds, that’s still our big value add,” says Chris Kerckhoff, Plancorp’s president and CEO.

As the firm began to grow in the mid-to-late 1990s, Buckner began looking for additional stakeholders, elevating key employees as partners. In the 2000s, the firm opened an office in Sarasota, Fla., as its clientele and AUM began to grow. In 2015, an additional St. Louis area office opened as Plancorp added a local institutional investment advisor.

Momentum From Prumentum

Perhaps Plancorp’s integration with tech-oriented Prumentum is another next-generation step in the firm’s history. Under the arrangement, Prumentum may still buy the remaining 60% of Plancorp at a later date via an equity exchange. “If the strategy is working as we hope after five years, Prumentum will own 100% of Plancorp,” De Beer comments.

Kerckhoff says the acquisition begins the integration of a traditional wealth management firm with a technology start-up. Together, the companies created a hybrid advice platform that might allow a midsize financial planning firm to serve large numbers of people with direct financial advice and expand its client base far beyond its founder’s original expectations.

Buckner, also Plancorp’s co-chief investment officer, originally concentrated on St. Louis area physicians, executives and small business owners as prospective clients. Today, its clientele includes other high- and ultra-high-net-worth families and individuals. “I wouldn’t say we’re serving any particular niche; rather, we have some pretty broad buckets,” says King. He adds that the size of the average client relationship is about $4 million in investable assets, but Plancorp is flexible enough to manage clients at any asset level.

A Team Approach

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