Growth is the name of the game for today’s RIA. The SEC, in its 2017 fiscal year budget proposal, stated, “From 2001 to 2015, assets under management of SEC-registered advisers increased approximately 210% from $21.5 trillion to approximately $66.8 trillion.” Among the factors fueling this growth in the RIA channel are tuck-ins, instances where a financial advisor or team of advisors join an existing RIA.
For an RIA to adequately employ this growth strategy they must not only create an attractive business environment but also should establish a level of industry visibility and credibility that’s enticing to potential breakaway advisors.
Research by Cerulli Associates found that brand recognition is a factor for advisors eyeing a new home, as many of those advisors fear their clients could be hesitant to leave a well-known brokerage firm. RIAs with a commitment to public relations ease those concerns by creating industry relevancy and exposure of their own.
An RIA’s PR strategy can forge a pipeline to top advisor talent. According to Duncan Rolph, managing partner at LA-based RIA Miracle Mile Advisors, whose AUM has increased over 200% over the last two years, the firm’s PR efforts have prompted a steady flow of inquiries from potential breakaway advisors.
“We’ve created an atmosphere here at Miracle Mile that is ideal for top advisors seeking independence,” said Rolph. “Our PR success has helped us deliver that message to like-minded industry professionals, which continues to help us expand our team.”
Independence offers breakaway advisors freedom from restrictions that may have prevented them from engaging with the media in the past. For those who want to earn third-party credibility and position themselves as thought leaders, a PR savvy RIA can be an attractive landing place.
From my experience and conversations with breakaway advisors, those who have had media exposure in the past often want it to continue. For them, a firm that does not engage the media is less attractive than one that will continue to present them with press opportunities and recognition.
PR can also help RIAs reach younger advisors. Cerulli Associates reports that just 5% of advisors are under 30, while a whopping 32% are set to leave the business by 2024. This emerging talent shortage raises the stakes for firms committed to long-term business growth. Creating a robust digital footprint through online media placements is an important way to get on the radar of the industry’s young talent and gain recruiting leverage over competing firms.
Once a tuck-in has been added, the firm can use PR to welcome the new advisor to the team with a press release, “People on the Move” listing in a local paper or business journal, and other public announcements that will bring them positive attention. This accomplishes two major goals. First, it shows each new advisor how genuinely excited the firm is to add them to the team. Second, it demonstrates that same message to future breakaways evaluating the firm as a potential destination.
The mentality that a business can simply opt out of PR is as flawed as believing one can opt out of HR or IT. For RIAs, no PR equals bad PR, and bad PR puts them at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to tuck-ins and talent acquisition. By investing in brand visibility and credibility through ongoing PR efforts, RIAs are able to ride the growth trend in their channel while adding valuable team members to their organizations.