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$365M team leaves South State Bank, launches an RIA

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Seeking more autonomy over their practice, three advisors who managed $365 million in assets left South State Bank to launch their own RIA firm, Firethorn Wealth Partners.

“The No. 1 reason was control. We want to be the ones making the choices on everything from CRM software to the custodial destination,” says Scott Benjamin. “We feel it is very important to innovate and the independent model will allow us to do that at a more rapid rate.”

Benjamin and his partners Jerry Rogers and Kevin Sweeney are the latest in a string of advisors to start their own RIAs.

South State Bank’s spokesperson declined to comment on the team’s departure.

The business launched with the help of tru Independence, which offers back-end operations such as compliance, billing and software. It also provides consulting services to new RIAs on everything from conception to opening day. Since its opening in July 2014, tru Independence has assisted 14 advisor teams begin an RIA business from scratch and supported two established RIA firms.

The trio said they chose tru Independence because of the company’s compliance services around investments in alternative products and limited partnerships.

“Alternatives factor prominently in our business mix so we wanted a compliance team with a strong background in that space,” says Benjamin.

Firethorn, based in Augusta, Georgia, opened last week and intends to continue relying on tru Independence for technology support and ongoing compliance. Chalice Capital Partners serves as the firm’s BD.

The three founders collectively have more than 50 years in financial services. Some planning services they’ve provided have included retirement advice for individuals and corporations and lifetime income planning. All three previously were registered with LPL Financial, who acted as the broker dealer for South State Bank; Sweeney for three years and Rogers and Benjamin for eight each.

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