Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Quiet Year That Wasn’t -Dlight News

Endurance athletes will tell you that the hardest workout on their schedule is a rest day. Those of us in this industry are built the same way—we want to keep running, building and growing. However, those rest days allow muscles to recover and take full advantage of the benefits of the workout. 

After several years of intentional growth, we took most of last year to ensure we had the right infrastructure in place to support our larger, more complex enterprise—we needed a rest day. This isn’t an easy choice to make in an industry defined by consolidation and demand for year-over-year returns. 

And while we didn’t announce as many deals as we have in recent years, we quietly feel that we did the necessary work to ensure our future expansion could result in sustainable growth. Our team took a risk by stepping back, but it proved there is no reward without risk. Through this inward process, we identified an opportunity enabled by our new structure and developed a unique program we feel will prove to be successful. 

None of this would have been possible without taking the time to assess our condition and prioritize other aspects of our business beyond dealmaking. 

An Example of Structural Changes 

Our growth was fueled by investments in firms both within our network and through targeted M&A. By working with those already within our network, we took advantage of our relationships with those we knew to be strong and were able to consider bigger opportunities outside of these firm, like our investment in Mexico City-based NSC Asesores in 2022. 

This approach provided additional opportunities that we were able to identify while taking that step back this past year. Specifically, the launch of Stratos Private Wealth—providing a pathway for ultra high net worth clients to remain with the firm while taking advantage of the scale of the enterprise. 

Stratos Private Wealth was developed in partnership with our leadership and the practice leader at BWM Financial. The partnership we developed over time enabled our team and the BWM Financial team to identify what we felt was the best way to establish this new entity to drive value for our clients and stakeholders. Frankly, I don’t believe we would have seen this opportunity in an active dealmaking environment. 

Growth Requires Resetting

Our growth was largely due to the partnership we’ve fostered with our capital partners, which enabled us to move quickly and execute against an ambitious set of goals during a volatile economic period. The financial aspects of our expansion were only one part of this value. 

Firms easily get lost in the numbers and figures. Most firms celebrated wins by focusing on asset levels and accounts served—and our team is no different. However, supporting individuals and helping them lay a foundation for a successful future is at the core of this business.

Our growth required us to recalibrate, and our capital structure allowed that to happen—something that isn’t always the case across the industry. However, it should be the norm. 

When we slowed down this year, we were able to identify the areas where we were strongest and the opportunities for improvement. A particular strength of our team is focusing on our people, advisors and how our choices could empower them to support clients. We deepened our investments in talent and technology. 

And because of this recalibration, we closed on four internal transactions at the end of the year. We drove our growth by slowing down deal making and laid the foundation for our approach moving forward. 

The Quiet Year That Wasn’t

Our look inward over this past year gave our team both the time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we want to go next. Our new structure and the chance to lean into our strengths allowed us to identify a growth opportunity that we do not feel would not have materialized otherwise. 

And now, rested and refreshed, we are ready for the next phase of our growth. 

Jeffrey Concepcion is founder and CEO, Stratos Wealth Partners

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