FA Magazine July/August 2021 - Page 41

fa ’ s 2021 ria survey and ranking
“i think we ’ re all rethinking our space needs . … My hope is that we can redirect some of those dollars into developing people .”
deb wetherby , wetherby Asset management
“ Most of us have long-term leases , so it ’ s not like those are going to change instantly ,” says Wetherby , but “ I think we ’ re all rethinking our space needs . … My hope is that we can redirect some of those dollars into developing people .”
Bahl says it would have been a mistake not to go forward with his three important hires after the pandemic hit , but another respondent in the RIA survey bragged that their firm was able to raise profitability by cutting office and travel expenses and freezing hires .
And that comes at a time when labor markets are tight , Wetherby says , and costs are rising for human capital , RIA firms ’ biggest line item . Wetherby was hiring in mid-June — looking for a wealth manager in her New York office and a client service associate in San Francisco . She says the firm is always hiring . She ’ s not the only one .
One large respondent in the RIA survey said , “ We have five open positions and are currently finding it difficult to hire the right people .” Robert DiMeo , the CEO at Fiducient in Chicago , says his firm currently has 18 open positions .
With more megafirms developing , Wetherby says she hopes there will be more entry-level positions to absorb advisors coming out of universities and that they ’ ll be tracing more defined career paths — something that younger advisors have complained about in the RIA industry for years . She says tech is the biggest line item after people and space . And again , she says that hybrid work models could allow firms to seek cheaper staff . She says she ’ s compared entry level salaries and found they are about 40 % higher in cities like San Francisco , Los Angeles and New York .
Dave Welling , the CEO of Mercer Advisors , says his firm signed up 1,100 new clients in 2020 , and that the pace has accelerated , part of the firm ’ s strength in closely integrating the operations of its 50 offices ( the firm started its acquisition strategy in 2016 . It purchased 13 firms in 2020 and announced two more this year as of June , he says ). As far as its new clients , “ These are mostly people we never physically met , which is mind-blowing ,” Welling says . The firm is headquartered in Denver but doesn ’ t have the bulk of its center of operations staff there , he says . The firm now has 17,000 clients and $ 32 billion in assets under management .
He adds that RIAs will see real estate savings after using hybrid work-from-home strategies . He says offices are going to a model that ’ s more similar to the medical profession : “ The doctors or surgeons operate across multiple facilities to be close to the client . So if you want to book a medical appointment , I live in Colorado … I could sometimes choose the availability of the appointments of the facility in Denver or the facility in Boulder or somewhere in between . I have three or four facilities I could go to based on what ’ s going on in my day . Or if I happen to want to get away for a ski weekend , there may be a facility up in Vail .” Meanwhile , back-office support to sign up new
Number Of emplOyees
2020 mean
2019 mean
Executives , partners and managing directors
Client relationship managers not included above
Other professionals / specialists not included above
Client services staff
Administrative staff
HOw AdvisOrs fOuNd emplOyees iN lAst 3 yeArs
Referrals From Other Employees
Referrals From Outside Sources
Through College Placement Programs 22.90 %
Internet Advertising 42.50 %
LinkedIn 41.35 %
61.78 %
68.37 %
ActiONs firms HAve tAkeN iN tHe lAst 3 yeArs
category actions taken in last 3 years % actions likely in next 12 months %
Hired strategy consultant
38.06 %
6.10 %
Obtained a valuation appraisal
38.88 %
8.90 %
Added one or more offices
33.94 %
8.90 %
Held exploratory merger talks
41.52 %
8.57 %
Rejected a merger proposal
26.85 %
2.31 %
Hired a former registered rep to work at your firm
35.09 %
8.57 %
july / august 2021 | financial advisor magazine | 37