We wish you continued success and growth this spring. RIA Match is committed to giving you the tools you need for succession and growth!

Our independent nature: how it helps and hurts growth and succession

Most of the 70% of advisors who are solo practitioners are solo practitioners by choice. Your grit, determination and dedication have brought you the success of your firm, the trust of your clients and pride in the practice you have built yourself. You have harnessed the leverage of technology, your custodians, broker dealer and product sponsors.

Our Achilles' Heel

You feel your Achilles heel when you lose a potential client, usually a sizable one, because you are a solo practitioner. The ensemble firm wins the client because the idiom gets asked: “What happens if you get hit by a bus?”
Your strength is also your vulnerability. You understand this better than anyone.

The Next Step

The challenge is the next step. . . buy, sell, merge, join, partner?
It seems more like a leap than a step. While a leap of faith is part of the process, there are intermediate steps to test the success of a future partnership together.
Would-be buyers, if your firm must dominate, accept that your potential candidate pool will be smaller as you are fishing in a pond of independence.
Let’s assume you have a short list of potential partners and you are ready to narrow the playing field. Resist your instinct to begin a dialogue focused on revenue multiples. While this concrete approach has merit it is but one piece of the puzzle and it’s not the first piece.

How do 2 Alpha Dogs Merge?. . . 

  • Consider interim steps like collaborative work, shared office space and other shared costs.
  • Keep a detailed journal of your discussions to provide clarity and documentation.
  • Involve a 3rd party to facilitate both firms throughout the process.

Get to know each other:  Determine if you like each other and can work together. This is a soul searching exercise similar to contemplating marriage.

  • Identify what you each hope to gain
  • Identify what you each are willing to give up
  • Have lunches together
  • Play together - basketball, golf, fish, hike or go for a run
  • Vacation together
  • Attend conferences together
  • Observe the leadership style of the other
  • Observe how she speaks about and acts towards staff and clients

Throughout this process of give and take, you will find out quickly what the other’s character is made of and how the other person works.
Get to know each other’s practices: Identify synergies between the two practices.

  • Identify the complementary skill sets
  • Identify the redundancies in your practices
  • Get a clear understanding of each other’s business model, services offered, products used
  • Understand the other firm’s investment philosophy
  • Develop a clear picture of the other firm’s client base, client retention
  • Develop a clear picture of the other firm’s systems and procedures
  • Develop an understanding of the firm’s financial picture

Get to know each other’s culture: The cultural alignment will determine the success of a match every time. Gauging this alignment is trickier than it seems.

  • Learn about the other’s client service experience
  • Learn the dynamics and culture of the staff
  • Spend time with each other’s staff and have them spend time with each other


  • Identify how you can collaborate on existing clients
  • Establish a project to develop new joint clients
  • Form or join a study group together

Share Costs

  • Share office, staffing and/or technology costs while remaining separate entities

Create a Joint Vision

  • Include your expectations
  • Define the metrics of success
  • Document your shared vision
  • Include the two teams in the vision exercise and allow time to merge and form a new company culture

The Take Away: Alpha Dogs merge slowly in a series of steps, not a leap

  • Give each of these phases some time. If you work successfully through each phase, the final merger will be the next logical step, not a leap.
  • Don’t let the momentum of the deal get ahead of you; be willing to walk away if your instincts are on alert. A break-up is much easier than a divorce.
  • Meet in the middle; be willing to let the other party set some of the parameters even if you are bigger.

At this level of joint effort, understanding and vision, a discussion of revenue multiples and firm valuations can be made on the strength of your relationship.

I interviewed an advisor who successfully transitioned from a wirehouse to independence, from commission to fee and from a solo practice to an ensemble firm. Read the interview here.

Best Practices to Enhance Your User Experience

Match List Tip #5

The best way to assess the interest level of a prospective profile. . .

  1. From your Match List, click on the profile of interest; look at the last time they logged in. What plan level have they subscribed to? Everyone can send an Indication of Interest but only Personal and Premium Plans can send internal emails. See if you can peak their interest.
  2. Send them an Indication of Interest (IOI) and they can respond.
  3. If they respond to the IOI, send them an email and start a dialogue.

Match List Tip #6

The best way to stay current on your matches. . . get emailed updates of new activity in your account?
RIA Match notifies you only when you have new matches, messages or Indications of Interest.

  • Check to see if you receive updates. At your Dashboard, hold your mouse over My Profiles and click on Personal Information on the dropdown menu.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Personal Information page, just below the Company Name and make sure you have the check box marked so you receive updates on your account. If you need to, check the box and select Update Account.


If you are just joining – some things you should know:

  •          Having trouble navigating through the website? It could be your browser; log into the site from Chrome or Firefox.
  •          Your profile has to be 100% complete to enter the matching pool. Check your percentage complete on your Dashboard and go to edit my matching profile to see the incomplete sections.
  •          You can upgrade and down grade on a monthly basis as you need.
  •          If you are a buyer, you will be matched with those who want to merge as well as those who want to sell. Start a dialogue with a merger interest, you don’t know where it will lead.

Based on your feedback, we continue to improve your user experience. Please share your ideas about what you like, and how we can improve at support@riamatch.com. We’d love to hear from you.

We wish you continued success,

Mary Ann

Mary Ann Buchanan
Founder, RIA Match

PS Haven’t completed your profile yet?
Your match could be waiting for you! Contact us if you have questions.