The number of registered investment advisors has been growing over the past decade at an annual rate of 2.4% while advisor headcounts at other retail advice channels have shrunk, according to research last year by Cerulli Associates.

For many of these advisors, leaving wirehouses and broker-dealers behind means that they either become their own boss or take on other leadership roles at RIAs.

But are they prepared to run a business? As Casey Jorgensen puts it, “To their credit, broker-dealers did a pretty good job of training [advisors], but now we are getting into this world where advisors who are now first-time executives and business owners don’t have the training to run their firms.”
Jorgensen, senior vice president for relationship management at Dynasty Financial Partners, said that with the rush of advisors starting their independent wealth management firms, “there isn’t a lot of specialized executive coaching to help them with that journey, not to mention the fact that they are bringing talent with them or trying to hire talent within their organization."

Dynasty, she said, has recognized that there is a lack of training and development programs for the RIA space, and has created Dynasty Institute for Executive Leadership to help fill the void.

The program, over the past four years, has created professional development offerings for all levels of the organizational chart of an independent wealth management firm, she said. The offerings include the  Emerging Advisor Program for new or aspiring financial advisors, which focuses on client acquisition; and the Whole Family Advisors Training Program for advisors who are working with wealthy families and those aspiring to do the same.

In 2021, the Advisors to CEOs program was added. The program, in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, trains first-time executives how to run their business. The year-long program includes two days of in-person sessions, webinars and roundtables, Jorgensen said. It covers a range of topics including  entrepreneurial leadership, effective performance conversations, advisor accountability, categorizing talents and evaluating performance, client experience innovation strategy, next generation leaders and navigating AI in the wealth management industry.

Jorgensen said there has been great interest in the program from new CEOs who have become a part of the Dynasty network. And many of them have repeated the program to take advantage of the new content delivered annually, she said.

Jorgensen said that the program has built a network of executives. Twenty-five executives graduated from the program in 2022 and 50 graduated in 2023, she said. 

One of those graduates is Michael Durso, CEO of Shore Haven Wealth Partners in Red Bank, N.J. Durso, who co-founded the firm in July 2020, said he worked in asset management for 10 years before working alongside his father, Lawrence Durso, at Morgan Stanley from 2016 to 2020.

Durso said he learned much from his father, who has been in the industry for more than four decades and now serves as chairman for the business, but the Dynasty program was a welcome step in the learning process. He noted that while his father handled his business at Morgan Stanley as if it was his own, “at the end of the day, when you’re inside a big company … you really only have so much autonomy to what you can do for business or for your client."

Durso said that as he was transitioning to the CEO role at his firm, his father encouraged him to go through the program. He went through it twice. His other partner in the firm, Michael Lombardi, who serves as chief planning officer, went through the program in the second year.   

“It was really helpful,” Durso said. “I think historically a lot of the things you saw from a training standpoint focus a lot more on the traditional financial advisor activities like financial planning or maybe investment type stuff, but this was completely away from that. A lot of the things we learned were much more relevant to business owners."

He noted that the second year of the program was more focused on AI, specifically leveraging the technology to create scale or in the place of hiring an employee. The key takeaway here, he said, is to make sure that your employees are in the right roles or doing the right things to keep up their skills.

Durso said it was gratifying to go to MIT and learn from “some of the smartest people in the world” about different techniques and approaches to managing a business. And having his partner with him at the in-person sessions also was a plus, he said, because there were things that they could really dig into for their business. “We were able to bring back some really good things to the team,” he said.

Spending time with network partners also was one of the high points of the program, Durso said. “You kind of learn some of the tricks of the trade from people who are either CEOs for a while or people like myself who were becoming a CEO. Learning different ways that they have done things in their businesses was really helpful,” he said.