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In an era of scale, when is a more nimble firm a better fit?


An RIA platform launched by compliance professionals is growing by offering a smaller home for wirehouse and reverse breakaways, Advisory Services Network COO Cindy Halpern explains in an episode of Financial Planning’s Podcast.

Advisory Services Network reeled in a record $1 billion in new assets under management in 2019 through recruiting and practice growth across its footprint of 133 advisors, according to Halpern. The team, led by owners Dave Paulukaitis and Tom Prescott, launched Atlanta-based Advisory Services in 2010 when they noticed a need in the RIA channel, Halpern says.

After fully independent RIAs had launched with their help, those client firms still needed assistance with operational and regulatory tasks. As competition for breakaway RIAs heats up among platform providers, consolidator firms and independent broker-dealers, Advisory Services has reached some $3.3 billion in AUM.

Cindy Halpern is the chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Advisory Services Network.

In the interview with FP Senior Editor Tobias Salinger, Halpern explained the firm’s approach to key questions in the RIA channel. Advisory Services uses all four major custodians, enables advisors who affiliate to retain full ownership of their practices and assigns its service team professionals to no more than 15 to 18 advisors as their home-office points of contact.

As Halpern spoke with FP, her team was in the process of helping a so-called reverse breakaway advisor affiliate with Advisory Services from the fully independent RIA channel. Along with the wirehouse advisors and other new recruits, reverse breakaways see value in removing burdens, she says.

“They don’t want to have to work on all of the operational and compliance and back-office things that are there, and they’d like to spend more time client-facing and doing the things they’re best at, which is meeting with their clients, making their investment decisions and gathering new clients to expand their book of business,” Halpern says. “You take all of that background headache away from them.”