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6 min read

SYNERGY24: Robb Baldwin and Joe Duran Share Four Keys for Powering RIAs’ Organic Growth

Jun 12, 2024 1:33:07 PM

A bull market and M&A activity are masking deficiencies in RIAs’ approach to landing new business. Fortunately, there are tried and true techniques that could help advisors get back on track.

Registered investment advisors who are treading water may actually be treading on thin ice, according to some of the industry’s most successful entrepreneurs.


Outside of market performance, 93% of RIAs didn’t achieve organic growth last year, according to an April 2024 presentation from Tiburon Strategic Advisors1.

TradePMR Founder and CEO Robb Baldwin is concerned that too many firms are turning away from a culture of growth and not investing in marketing initiatives or new services to differentiate themselves from the competition. At one of the headline events of the 2024 Synergy conference, Baldwin spoke with Joe Duran, who sold United Capital to Goldman Sachs in 2019 and is launching a new investment firm, Rise Growth Partners, about what comes next for the maturing RIA industry.

The two discussed the potential vulnerabilities firms face if they continue to rely on M&A and investment returns to drive “growth.” They also outlined the steps organic growth-oriented firms can take in their efforts to add new clients by winning them away from complacent competitors.

Change is Good


Many RIAs are resting on their laurels — and that’s bad news for advisors and their clients, said Duran.

“You only grow when you change,” he said, during an onstage chat with Baldwin at SYNERGY24 in Las Vegas. “If you have a leader who has not changed the way they work; has not evolved as a person; has tried nothing new in a decade, you can probably bet that they are running a stagnant firm.”

Firms that want organic growth need to focus on finding strangers and converting them into clients, Duran added. He recommends advisors dedicate 30% of their time to growing their businesses, which could be challenging for advisors who let their sales skills wither.

“We’re awash in sameness.”

RobB-JoeD_DSC2445To capitalize on their advantages, firms need to be analyzing their clients’ preferences and providing solutions that meet those needs, said Duran. They need to be scheduling internal meetings to review the amount of new business that advisors are bringing into the firm and rewarding those who deliver organic growth.

Over the next 20 years, offering top-tier client experiences and leaning into a firm’s distinct strengths will be crucial growth drivers in my opinion. “We’re awash in sameness,” Duran told the audience, noting that a firm that’s counting on future growth because it provides yesteryear’s service offerings is “like a hotel saying they have a bed.”

He challenged advisors to dig deeper and find growth by addressing the emotions surrounding money. “Our industry is still rooted in math and boredom,” he said, “rather than imagination and heart.”

The Soul of Growth

In the years that Duran spent ideating, growing and selling his businesses, he said he always came back to four pillars for growth. He believes they’re more important now than ever.

  1. In his early entrepreneurial days, Duran used to have a sign in his office that read: “If everyone’s going to eat, somebody’s got to sell.” It’s one of the reasons why Duran advocates that roughly 1/3 of advisors’ time be devoted to the process of sales.

    Whether it’s sourcing potential new clients, turning to tech-enabled sales techniques, like personality surveys and marketing events, or soliciting referrals, advisors should be celebrating sales. “If you believe you’re doing something great for clients, you should be singing about it,” he said.
  2. Duran urged advisors to ask themselves how they’re unique — and provide solutions and technology that set them apart from the competition. An RIA platform that promotes a better understanding of clients’ financial behaviors and communications styles could be a major advantage, especially when competitors are content to merely maintain the status quo, he said.
  3. Client insights can be critical for a growing firm. By taking a closer look at their book of business, it’s not unusual for advisors to find that they do exceedingly well with a few small subsets of their client base, said Duran. These segments are where firms will find their greatest growth potential in my opinion.

  4. “We’re in the service business. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t win,” said Duran. When advisors start worrying more about the business than the clients, they’re in the wrong mindset, he cautioned. The core of financial advice is service and helping clients reach their full potential.

The wealth management industry is in the midst of major changes. The easy wins for RIAs are increasingly harder to come by, but there are major opportunities for those willing to put in the effort and outcompete their peers. With the right mindset, RIA platform, partners, and insights, advisors can find organic growth and a path to success.


About TradePMR

For more than two decades, TradePMR has worked with growth-minded independent registered investment advisors (RIAs), providing innovative technology tools and support designed to transform their businesses. The privately-held brokerage and custodian services provider (Member FINRA/SIPC), based in Gainesville, Fla., works to streamline investment advisors' operations through comprehensive custodial, operational, and trading support. For more information, visit www.TradePMR.com.

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1 https://www.tiburonadvisors.com/RRAP/Chip_Roame_Keynote_Presentation_1/Chip_Roame_Keynote_Presentation_1.html

Written by TradePMR