Steward Partners adds consulting unit

CEO says the business will operate 'conflict-free'

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Feb 20, 2014 @ 11:36 am (Updated 1:23 pm) EST

Scott Abry, CEO of Steward Partners Consulting Solutions
Scott Abry, CEO of Steward Partners Consulting Solutions

A new Raymond James-backed firm launched by wirehouse exiles is building a consulting unit.

Steward Partners Holdings acquired the practice of a New York-based recruiter with roots in management at Morgan Stanley, Steward Partners annnounced this week.

More: Wirehouse breakaways may be on the rise

Steward's equity-partnership model includes an investment advisory business in the Northeast that runs on Raymond James' platform.

Now it also includes a consulting unit, Steward Partners Consulting Solutions, run by Scott Abry.

Mr. Abry, 50, shares with two of Steward's founders a Morgan Stanley lineage, working in management at the brokerage and its predecessor, Smith Barney. More recently he has worked as a third-party recruiter through his firm, Abry Advisors.

Mr. Abry said that his unit will operate autonomously and its emphasis will be consulting with executives who are looking to build and expand independent financial advisory firms,

“As consultants we want to be completely conflict-free,” he said.

But working with Steward will allow him “more scale to take advantage” of business opportunities in the evolving landscape for financial advice, including what he sees as a shifting emphasis by wirehouses away from all but their top producers.

“There's such a huge opportunity in that world of RIAs, dual-registered hybrids, the insurance companies,” Mr. Abry said.

Related: How top RIAs transition from business owners to managers

Steward's adviser-partners earn an equity stake and eligibility to share in the profits of all the firms under their umbrella.

The firm is the latest in a series founded in the last decade, including HighTower Advisors and Dynasty Financial Partners, which have sought to cater to high-producing advisers, many of whom have left wirehouses for the independent circuit.

A number of consulting, compliance and other auxiliary firms have also emerged to serve those advisers.