After partnering together for 16 years as financial consultants, Jason Drews and Anthony Vece decided that transitioning from a broker-dealer to an independent wealth management model would be a natural progression for the growth of their business.
Since joining Thrivent Advisor Network (TAN) in 2020, Jason and Tony have enjoyed greater freedom to innovate and adopt flexible policies to support the growth of their business, M25 Advisors. “Being independent gives us the autonomy to do what we think will allow us to best support our clients and grow our business,” Tony says. “That’s a big shift from a captive environment where you often have to go through many layers of review to get approval to try something different.”
The shift to an independent model has enabled Jason and Tony to improve the scale and efficiency of their operations, deepen client relationships and accelerate the growth of their business. “Being affiliated with Thrivent Advisor Network gives us better control over the nuts and bolts of our practice management, which frees up time to think more proactively about maintaining and strengthening client relationships,” Tony says. “We’re able to focus more on the planning aspects of client conversations and issues that matter the most to our clients, such as legacy planning. And we’re able to be more proactive in how we communicate with clients."
Freedom to implement a flexible fee structure
Adopting a more flexible fee structure has been a big factor in M25’s ability to bring on additional accounts and strengthen relationships with existing clients. For instance, the firm shifted to a family billing policy instead of defining a household as a residential address. Having one family relationship that includes parents, children and grandchildren “allows us to bring in client accounts that we didn’t have a home for in our previous broker-dealer environment,” Tony says. “That offers economies of scale for our clients, and they appreciate our willingness to dig a little deeper to get to know their family.”
We doubled assets under advisement during our first two years with TAN— from roughly $125 million when we transitioned in August 2020 to $250 million by early 2022
Taking on smaller accounts connected to larger relationships may not generate much revenue initially, but expanding a family relationship is likely to create significant value over time and yield more referrals, Tony adds. “Focusing on family lines also allows us to establish relationships with our clients’ beneficiaries, which means we won’t need to start from scratch establishing a new relationship when a wealth transfer occurs.”
Growth exceeds expectations
M25’s growth since going independent has far exceeded Tony and Jason’s expectations. Initially they set a target of reaching $1 billion in client assets under advisement within 10 years, which would represent a 15% annual growth rate.
“We doubled assets under advisement during our first two years with TAN – from roughly $125 million when we transitioned in August 2020 to $250 million by early 2022,” Jason says. Asset growth has come from three sources:
• market gains
• new business from the addition of three new advisors
• organic growth from the core team of Tony, Jason, and three other staff members who primarily handled operations and administrative support, but also have some clients of their own
Success with Independence and Support
Jason and Tony are glad to be part of an entrepreneurial community of independent RIAs who share similar values, and they appreciate the support and expertise Thrivent Advisor Network provides. “Having a network of firms to connect with has been helpful, and the talents of the people in the various support roles that TAN provides – compliance, business development, technology, etc. – are far greater than we’d be able to staff in house as a stand-alone RIA,” Jason says.