Brian Holmes is a firm believer in the power of compound growth. "We've consistently been growing more than 15% a year," he told Financial Planning, "and that's our plan for the future." Holmes is president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Signature Estate and Investment Advisors (SEIA), a firm that has $2.6 billion in assets under management (as of 9/30/12) and $16 million in revenues. "In five years," Holmes predicted, "I expect that we'll manage more than $5 billion, with revenues over $30 million."
SEIA's growth already has earned recognition for the firm. Both Holmes and SEIA advisor Paul Taghibagi are on the Barron's 2012 list of Top 100 Wealth Advisors. According to the listing, Holmes (#19 on the list) has a typical account size of $5 million and client net worth of $15 million while Taghibagi (#76) has a typical account size of $1.65 million and client net worth of $8 million.
"I think all six of our senior advisors should be on the list," Holmes said, "but there is a maximum of two on the list. Our senior advisors all run their own practices; it's up to them to develop their own client base."
While the senior advisors build up their clientele, SEIA provides ample support. "We're spending three times as much on overhead as we spent five years ago," Holmes said. "That support includes more spending on technology, on our CRM system, on our trading system, on our research, and hiring CFAs." The CFAs help to provide investment management insights.
"We also run coordinated marketing events on behalf of all of our advisors," Holmes said. "Our private client group has been especially successful in that area, bringing in high-net-worth clients."
What makes Holmes so confident that the firm's past growth rate will continue? "We have nine other financial advisors now," he said, "and we expect their business to grow. In addition, we have an arrangement with the John Hancock Financial Network. Across the nation, advisors in that network will be bringing us assets from high-net-worth clients to manage. That affiliation brought us about $180 million in assets in the past four quarters; the average account size from John Hancock is higher than our firm's average."
The Hancock deal will give SEIA a national presence, Holmes believes. For now, the company has offices in California and Virginia. As for SEIA's base business, Holmes said that his firm's resources has it well-positioned to take advantages of future trends. "The pendulum is swinging back from investment management to holistic planning," he asserted. "Distribution planning has become a hot topic for many of our clients. We've also become more involved in helping clients find alternative sources of income, such as selling real estate or selling their business."