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Indie firm for ‘frustrated’ wirehouse brokers lands 5th hire in a month

Sanctuary Wealth, an 18-month-old hybrid RIA, recruited its fifth wirehouse breakaway team in the last 30 days, signaling an aggressive expansion is continuing apace.

The four-person team, dubbed G Squared Private Wealth, managed $455 million while at Merrill Lynch, according to Sanctuary. The team is based in Houston and led by advisors George Georgiades and Victoria Greene.

They’re also the latest advisors to quit a wirehouse for the independent channel, a widespread migration that has prompted a mushrooming of firms to cater to breakaway brokers, from platform providers to independent broker-dealers to RIAs affiliated with existing firms.

“We’re in a marketplace where they are many different flavors of independence, and there seems to be new players popping up every month,” says recruiter Mark Elzweig. “Many wirehouse advisors going independent prefer to join a firm that gives them structure and resources to make it easier. They don’t have to spend a lot of time building it from the ground up.”

Sanctuary positions itself as serving the “frustrated” wirehouse advisor, offering an independent model but with support, says founder and CEO Jim Dickson, a former Merrill Lynch divisional president.

“They feel like they aren’t their best self and are not doing the things they want to be doing, whether that be a bespoke client experience or more social media,” the chief executive says.

So far the firm has found a receptive audience. Since its founding in March 2018, Sanctuary has picked up 25 teams. It now has more than $10 billion in AUM.

From left, Christina Williams, Client Associate; Victoria Greene, CFA®, CRPC®, Founding Partner and Portfolio Manager; George Georgiades, CIMA®, Founding Partner and Managing Director; Janet Syptak, Senior Client Associate

Advisors joining the firm receive an independent payout, a small transition package and equity in Sanctuary Wealth, Dickson says. The recruiting deal includes a forgivable loan, which is forgiven over a set period of time. Sanctuary’s target advisor generates between $2 million and $10 million in revenue.

On the RIA side of the business, advisors can choose to custody assets with Schwab, TD or Pershing. “We take them through the process and they get to pick what’s best for them,” Dickson says. The firm also has a broker-dealer.

Sanctuary expects to entice more breakaways, boosting its footprint to 30 states by year-end — though executives emphasize they are selective in who they recruit.

“This is about a cultural fit. And that makes it not a numbers game, but a culture game. I think that’s the downside to a wirehouse or IBD. They are quantity over quality,” says Chief Experience Officer Amit Dogra.

Of the new hires in Texas, Dickson calls them a “flagship” team.

“It’s a really big deal and a strategic hire that we can build around in the future,” he says, calling Georgiades “someone people really looked up to and had a lot of respect for.”

Georgiades had been with Merrill Lynch for the entirety of his 32-year career. Greene, his teammate, started her career at Merrill Lynch in 2008, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. They researched several career options, but were drawn to Sanctuary for its business model, Georgiades said in a statement.

A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman declined to comment on their departure.

Sanctuary’s other recent hires include an $800 million team in Indianapolis and $275 million team in San Francisco. Both moves came at the expense of Merrill Lynch.

Though Sanctuary is focused on wirehouse advisors, it is also eyeing talent in the independent space.

“We’ve got a lot of independents coming to us and saying, ‘We’re tired of doing the compliance and regulatory side, can we hire you to do that?’ We will absolutely do that,” Dickson says. “I think it’ll be a barbell strategy, a wirehouse advisor on one side and the frustrated independent on the other side.”

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