Brandywine Oak Non-public Wealth, a registered funding advisory agency nestled within the Delaware Valley of Southern Pennsylvania, was based in 2108 by 5 breakaway wirehouse advisors with $500 million in consumer belongings between them.
The agency has grown by greater than 68% in simply 5 years, primarily by natural progress, whereas including seven further workers and creating an affiliated tax observe with three devoted accountants. At the moment, Brandywine Oak oversees round $1.5 billion in belongings and co-CEOs Michael Henley and Alison Brooks count on to succeed in $5 billion over the approaching decade.
However not by attracting extra purchasers. The other, in reality.
“We’re truly making an attempt to shrink the variety of purchasers that we work with,” mentioned Henley. “And improve the dimensions of these purchasers.”
If the agency’s median consumer has $3 million in manageable belongings, he defined, they’re concentrating on purchasers within the $5 million vary. And when their median consumer reaches $5 million, they’ll be courting households with greater than twice that quantity.
“The extra we are able to go up-market, we discover these households have extra subtle planning wants which can be a greater match for our ability set,” Henley mentioned, including that it additionally is sensible from a capability standpoint. “You may solely deal with so many households. In case your common consumer is $2 million, you in all probability shouldn’t be onboarding a bunch of $1 million purchasers—however I see it occurring on a regular basis.”
Brooks and Henley mentioned they left positions at Merrill Lynch—the place every spent greater than a decade—as a result of they discovered they have been unable to provide goal and unconflicted recommendation beneath the captive wirehouse mannequin. They based Brandywine Oak with Chairman Steve Maconi, Tracy McGuire and Mark Jackson, all Merrill Lynch expats with 75 years of expertise between them.
“We’re now ready to be on the identical aspect of the desk because the purchasers,” Henley mentioned. “And we’re younger; we’ve an extended runway forward of us and finally didn’t wish to be trapped into sure funding merchandise, sure recommendation, et cetera.”
One of many corporations included on WealthManagement.com’s RIA Edge 100 listing, created in partnership with Discovery Information, Brandywine Oak has grown at a considerably sooner tempo than its extra established friends, whereas additionally sustaining an above common client-to-advisor ratio and investing in skilled certifications.
In only a few quick years, the agency has added and expanded providers and capabilities by considerate additions, ongoing skilled growth and a proactive staffing coverage to handle progress.
In addition to monetary planning providers, Brandywine Oak presently presents funding administration, retirement planning, tax planning and preparation, insurance coverage and property planning, entry to sure banking providers and ongoing monetary schooling. The agency has native legislation and insurance coverage corporations on retainer to supply the related experience and mandatory paperwork—however introduced taxes in-house 18 months in the past, launching an adjoining observe with CPA Chris Smith and three workers.
“That has been an enormous differentiator when it comes to aggressive benefit,” mentioned Henley, noting that the tax observe constantly units the agency aside in gross sales conferences from corporations comparable to Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, in addition to bigger RIAs like Artistic Planning.
“What we underestimated,” he added, “was the overwhelming variety of purchasers that needed to right away change over to having their taxes finished. We anticipated round 10% within the first 30 days, and it ended up being nearer to 40%. So, it was rather a lot, nevertheless it was actually a game-changer.”
Each beneath the age of 40—together with 80% of the agency’s workers—Henley and Brooks undertaking a cushty administration dynamic that deserves credit score for at the very least a few of their success.
“She does all of the work, I take all of the credit score,” joked Henley. “It’s an important association.”
“Michael is the agency’s visionary,” mentioned Brooks. “He works with our most subtle purchasers and comes up with all these concepts which have actually been key to our progress.”
“And Alison is aware of execute on these concepts,” Henley mentioned.
That co-management philosophy extends all through all the agency. Every consumer is roofed by at the very least one lead advisor and two devoted associates and has entry to all of the experience and expertise Brandywine Oak has to supply.
“None of our advisors have their very own purchasers,” Henley mentioned. “They’re all purchasers of all the agency and that’s essential.” He defined that the mannequin permits his workers to stay extremely concerned with every consumer whereas lessening the day-to-day workload for senior advisors who can focus their power on extra difficult duties for more and more subtle wants.
Inside group constructing can be an vital exercise at Brandywine Oak, he mentioned—and an excellent enjoyable one with a predominantly millennial workers. One current tour took all the agency to the Porsche Expertise Heart in Atlanta, Ga.
“We had all 12 individuals down there racing ridiculous automobiles all day,” he mentioned. “That sort of factor in all probability wouldn’t be potential if we had a group that was a lot older.”
“The group [at Brandywine Oak] is pretty much as good as any advisory group we’ve labored with within the business,” mentioned Shirl Penney, chief govt officer for Dynasty Monetary Companions, a tech-enabled observe administration platform devoted to serving to RIAs launch independently. Henley and Brooks selected Dynasty as a result of the platform was “principally the one sport on the town” that may enable them to retain management of the enterprise.
“Notably given their age, it’s actually been an incredible progress story,” Penney mentioned. “I feel it’s distinctive at a time when lots of advisors are getting massive belongings constructed up rapidly by M&A and inorganic progress. Their natural progress has been very spectacular, and I feel that basically differentiates them versus a few of their friends within the house.”
In 2021, the agency acquired a five-person group from Wells Fargo led by Lisa Quadrini. She reached out to Brandywine Oak in quest of a greater succession plan and transitioned her $250 million e-book of enterprise in April. Establishing a satellite tv for pc workplace in Kiawah Island, SC, the deal is the one M&A transaction the agency has accomplished thus far.
Whereas they don’t anticipate extending the contract with Dynasty to make the most of the platform’s M&A capabilities, Henley and Brooks mentioned they count on to launch their very own inorganic technique in earnest after that settlement sunsets later this 12 months.
“We’re very a lot trying ahead to releasing the shackles and shifting on,” mentioned Henley, describing his group as “do-it-yourselfers.”
Noting tentative plans to determine a everlasting workplace in Charleston, SC, he recognized upstate New York as one other area of curiosity for enlargement. Henley mentioned the agency will proceed to focus on breakaway advisors however is open to purchasing an present RIA.
“Wirehouses make it simple,” he mentioned. “We communicate that language, however they’re additionally simple to promote in opposition to as a result of that triangulation of recommendation shouldn’t be there. And, extra so, most wirehouse advisors wish to go away most wirehouses. They need a succession plan the place they know their purchasers will likely be taken care of; that was the catalyst for Lisa approaching board.”
“Our massive purpose now could be persevering with to rent,” Henley mentioned. “We have acknowledged that we do not wish to be ready of weak spot when it comes to hiring and would slightly have too many on workers than too little.”
“We wish to rent upfront of the necessity,” nodded Brooks.
The agency already boasts CFP, CRPC, RMA and CPA certifications, however is at all times trying so as to add extra.
“We’d like to seek out somebody who’s an authorized divorce monetary analyst,” mentioned Henley. “Or an authorized belief monetary advisor, as an illustration. I feel the extra specialties you may have, the higher.”
Along with a give attention to offering extra specialised providers and including experience, the Brandywine Oak group goes out of its manner each quarter to search for methods to enhance, improve or improve present providers. This may embrace easy, value-add providers such offering fraud-proof pens, serving to purchasers assign legacy designees to their cell telephones or figuring out unclaimed belongings.
Because the agency’s resident “visionary,” Henley mentioned he will get a lot of his inspiration from semi-annual Mastermind conferences with different monetary providers professionals, one thing he whole-heartedly recommends to different corporations in search of progress.
“The primary factor that I’d encourage any advisor to do is type a Mastermind of six to eight different like-minded advisors round your age who’re progress oriented, perhaps at totally different RIAs, and get collectively at an Airbnb a few times a 12 months to share greatest practices and rent a pair coaches,” he mentioned.
“I am going to lots of conferences and people are additionally good studying experiences, however the vibe at a Mastermind is extra open and also you’re more likely to get true recommendation. That has been invaluable.”