Shirl Penney

Shirl Penney

President and CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners

Before founding Dynasty Financial Partners in 2010, president and CEO Shirl Penney spent 18 months doing a listening tour.

He had observed an accelerated trend of wirehouse advisers with ultrahigh-net-worth clients outgrowing their platforms and going independent. He saw an opportunity.

After meeting with about 50 registered investment advisers, along with custodians and turnkey asset management providers, Mr. Penney came away with a thesis: Advisers are asking for simplicity and integration.

His answer to that need was Dynasty, an integrated platform company focused on the specialized needs of top RIA firms across the country.

“Our innovation was to aggregate a community of like-minded RIAs into a large buying unit, similar in size to an institutional investor,” Mr. Penney, 40, said. “This enables connectivity across the whole industry to get more choice, with access to products for their level of need, along with our proprietary technology.”

A major focus of the company is to enable advisers to offer conflict-free advice and collaboration. In six years, the company has grown to about 40 members with more than $25 billion in assets under management.

Mr. Penney, who launched his firm at age 34, displayed a fearlessness and drive that sprang from living in poverty as a child.

Raised by his step-grandfather in rural Maine, Mr. Penney was homeless from age 11 through 12. He persevered, making it to college and then Wall Street.

“Despite what people told me, I had a belief in myself and wanted to live a life that would make my grandfather proud,” he said. “When you go to bed cold and hungry, that’s a motivator.”

– Deborah Nason