The Fiduciary Group has entered into a strategic partnership with Focus Financial Partners effective April 1, 2015. Focus is the world’s largest partnership of independent wealth management firms, with partners across the United States and in the UK and Canada.

We became the 32rd partner firm and the first and only firm in the Coastal region. Like us, the other partner firms operate independently and practice fiduciary investment management with an emphasis on transparency and putting client interests first. You can learn more about Focus and its partner firms by going to www.focusfinancialpartners.com

So what changes might we anticipate? There will be no change in how we operate our business or manage client portfolios, except to continue getting better at what we do thanks to the expertise and resources Focus brings. The Fiduciary Group leadership team remains the same, and we will continue to provide advisory services to our clients using the same client-centered approach that we have employed since the inception of our firm. Far from being employees of another organization, we have a perpetual management agreement that allows us to manage our business as we think best, within the context of a powerful network that supports collaborative relationships. As co-founder Rudy Adolf has stated, “…at Focus we know that your most important asset is your entrepreneurship.” In effect we get all the benefits of partnership while retaining our independence.

Why did we decide to partner with Focus as a value-added investor in our business? There are really three reasons: access to unparalleled resources and best practices; succession planning; and growth.

The Focus team of 70+ bright, experienced professionals based in New York and San Francisco provides world-class consulting—as little or as much as we want—in all areas of practice management including operations, technology, finance, compliance, and marketing. Already, the talented Focus staff has helped us identify opportunities for enhancements in operations, talent retention and development, and compliance that will translate into an improved experience for our clients.

In addition to the Focus team, there is an even larger pool of talent to tap into among the partner advisory firms. The partner firms are carefully selected by Focus based on the highest standards of excellence in the investment advisory field. All of them lead well-managed firms with successful track records. Together these firms form a powerful association that encourages collaborative relationships and the sharing of resources and best practices. As guests at the last bi-annual partner meeting in October, Joel, Scott, Julia and I got a taste of how empowering it is to spend several days in work sessions with the principals of the other partner firms, sharing best practices in all aspects of serving clients from investment management to enhanced financial planning and cybersecurity. Apart from the twice-yearly partner meetings, it’s a good feeling to be able to pick up the phone and get feedback and ideas from other business owners and investment advisors whose expertise and experience you respect.

By availing ourselves of and leveraging the vast resources offered through the Focus partnership, we will be able to craft the best investment solutions for our clients and continually enhance our services. One of my favorite quotes sums up our perspective: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team.” We think we’ve got the right team.

The second reason for partnering has to do with succession planning. Having been involved in the planning and administration of hundreds of trusts and estates, I truly understand the need for “estate planning” in a business. My dad started our firm 45 years ago, and I’ve helped to build it over the last 35 years. I wanted to make sure that the firm is thriving 50 years from now. Focus will help us recruit and mentor top talent to become leaders for the next generation, as well as provide a path to ownership for our key members. This will ensure continuity in serving our clients and peace of mind that we can provide trusted advice and highly personalized service for generations to come.

Our last reason for partnering is growth of our business and geographical footprint. Focus brings to the table both the capital and merger and acquisition expertise to help us grow our presence from Charleston to St. Simons Island. We intend to continue growing and developing our firm, and adding new capabilities and talented professionals to our team as needed. The Focus platform makes it easy and attractive for successful investment advisors to join us. It remains our vision to pursue opportunities that foster: (1) continuity and growth of our relationships with our clients and the professionals with whom we collaborate to serve our clients; (2) professional stability and opportunity for our team of principals and associates; and (3) an environment where we can continue to build effective and prudent investment and wealth strategies and prioritize our clients’ best interests. We expect our relationship with Focus will only enhance our ability to achieve these objectives.

AUTHOR:

MALCOLM BUTLER, JD