Fast-growing Steward Partners, an employee-owned, independent partnership associated with Raymond James Financial Services Inc., has introduced a new 1099 advisor affiliation model, according to a news release.

The new employment model classifies affiliating advisors as self-employed independent contractors, in charge of their own business, while giving them access to the technology, compliance, resources and executive support enjoyed by full-time W-2 employees of Steward. 

The new Steward affiliation model differs from others in the RIA industry by providing independent advisors with equity in the firm, just as it does all full-time employees, Steward said.

Since its founding in 2013, Steward Partners has been one of the fastest growing RIAs in the industry. In 2019 alone, the firm added 18 new advisors and opened six new offices, pushing overall advisor headcount above 100 across 21 locations, with more expected before year-end, the company said. 

In April, Steward Partners received a $50 million minority investment from The Cynosure Group, an independent alternatives asset manager and advisor in Salt Lake City that makes long-term investments on behalf of families, foundations and other like-minded institutions. The investment made Steward one of the first RIAs to provide its team with a meaningful liquidity event in such a short timeframe since launching, giving the firm strong momentum into 2020 for further growth.

According to Steward CEO Jim Gold, who is based out of the firm's New York office, some of the new investment money from Cynosure was earmarked for recruiting new advisors. With the subsequent introduction of a 1099 affiliation model last month, Steward has significantly widened its appeal to an even greater number of advisors.

“Our new affiliate model was created with entrepreneurial advisors in mind,” he said in a news release. “We know that different advisors have different needs, and we couldn’t be more excited to expand and evolve our business by offering (them) more options as they consider the move to independence.”

Gold said that the new affiliation model allowed anyone considering independence or already independent to join Steward.

In an October 29 email, he responded for further comment.

Financial Advisor asked Gold if the Cynosure Group’s April purchase of a minority stake in Steward Partners also played a role in the firm’s decision to offer advisors a new independent affiliation model, in addition to advisor request for it.

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