Authenticity, Growth, and Dealmaking with Phil Fiore
As the RIA space grows, genuine talent becomes more difficult to find, and of course, bringing on talent is paramount to growth — organic or inorganic. How does a firm set themselves apart, and attract talent to bring on board? For Phil, the answer is simple: Authenticity.
Join me for this week’s DealQuest Podcast episode where I sit down with Phil Fiore of Procyon Partners authenticity, growth, and being a breakaway:
Having more than 25 years of experience, Procyon Partners’ Co-Founder, Phil Fiore, has extensive experience and expertise in the investment advisory space. In addition to being a co-founder of Procyon in 2017, Phil formerly held the positions of Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at UBS, Senior Institutional Consultant, Senior Retirement Plan Consultant, and member of the Institutional Consulting Group and its Advisory Council. 401KWire twice named Phil one of the Nation’s 300 Most Influential Advisors in the Defined Contributions Arena, The Financial Times recognized him as one of their Top 400 Advisors in 2014, and Barron’s named him one of their Top 1,200 Financial Advisors in 2015.
Given all these accomplishments and experiences, Phil is equipped to speak with authority in the wealth management space, but, when Phil was younger, the term “wealth management” wasn’t even in his lexicon. Coming from a first-generation immigrant Italian family, Phil spent most of his early life believing that soccer would be what his future held. His father, a traditional Italian man, created the PAL Soccer League in his hometown in Connecticut. While his father instilled within him a go-and-get-it-yourself attitude as opposed to handing him money (a rudimentary business skill), soccer was indeed what his heart was set on.
Nevertheless, professional soccer only existed in Europe at the time Phil graduated college, so he had to figure out a new path. At first, his intended path was law school, but sometimes life chooses for you what you’re meant to do. In his late 20s, he was presented with an opportunity to join a business he couldn’t refuse which led to him becoming the highly regarded leader and dealmaker he is today.
THE NEW WAVE OF BREAKAWAY
Procyon Partners is a prime example of a new wave of breakaway RIA firms. Traditionally, RIA breakaways were wealth management practices run by advisors establishing their own businesses for their own reasons — mainly escaping big firm bureaucracy and limitations or the desire to be self-employed. On the other hand, a new wave of breakaways was ushered in, with Procyon being one of those to breakaway with new additional motivation: Authentic, strategic growth from the start. This is growth with intention, not growth for the sake of growth, but growth with the purpose to build a stronger organization that can service clients more fully and comprehensively.
Though Phil and his fellow founding partners started out in wirehouse firms (a full-service broker-dealer), they realized that their specialty expertise in retirement consulting and other key service offerings excelled well beyond the wirehouse’s “full-service” paradigm. As a result, they made the decision to leave the wirehouses.
“An exciting journey, for sure,” says Phil, but certainly not without its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles faced by Phil and his new company was actually the freedom they had to operate as they pleased. They had to take a step back and evaluate their circumstances, and not act on impulse, but rather conduct their business in a manner that was best for their clients and for their business.
Another decision made in 2017 by the Procyon founding partners, was to collaborate with Dynasty Financial Partners. Due to Dynasty’s well-established standing, they were able to offer analytics, experienced transition, and operational support to Procyon in ways that would otherwise be inaccessible to them at their founding. This decision gives Procyon the ability to focus on transitioning their clients and providing personalized service at a high level for high-net-worth individuals, families, and business owners. In 2022, this partnership is still in place, and Procyon’s founders continue to benefit from and deeply appreciate the exceptionality, support, and partnership that Dynasty offers.
A STRATEGIC GROWTH-DRIVEN MINDSET
Procyon Partners’ authentic, strategic growth-driven goal was present from the beginning of 2017. Their start focused on organic growth by the founding partners going out and attracting business on their own; however, their inorganic growth via bringing on new advisors has been what gave them their largest leg up.
It’s important to note that there is no one specific way to achieve growth, what works for one business may not work for another. Depending on the business model and industry, primarily organic growth may be best, inorganic growth may get you further, or a combination of the two may be where the sweet spot is. For most businesses, a balance of the two is usually preferred, but in the RIA space, inorganic growth has become a huge driver of success for most of the fastest-growing firms.
The model Procyon decided to use for its growth is “One Team, One Dream”. Phil explains that, for example, many M&A transactions may operate as “Corey Wealth Management, Powered by Procyon”, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, Phil believes that by operating with unity, they’re able to achieve more growth. Phil, alongside his Procyon founding partners, decided from the start they wanted their business to operate as one, with everyone who is coming in being in the same boat, rowing towards the same dream. That can provide some obstacles in finding the right people for your business, but in the end, when the right people come together, wonderful things will happen.
Additionally, Phil emphasizes that bringing in talent who are eager to be there, people who can act as leaders in your firm will help your company run like a well-oiled machine. You can generate a lot more growth by bringing in strong, enthusiastic talent as opposed to bringing in what’s available merely because it’s available or who doesn’t want to genuinely work with you. The latter will undoubtedly work against your growth prospects.
AUTHENTICITY IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET
As the RIA space grows, genuine talent becomes more difficult to find, and of course, bringing on talent is paramount to growth – organic or inorganic. How does a firm set themselves apart, and attract talent to bring on board? For Phil, the answer is simple: Authenticity.
Procyon’s message is deliberately authentic to attract authenticity. Many — not all — firms will promise the stars, and only deliver on half the sky. For Procyon, it’s imperative to:
- Be transparent in what his firm can offer
- Authentic in wanting to build a beneficial relationship
- Keeping expectations grounded so they can be exceeded
- Hiring the right people with the right motivation and incentives
By keeping things transparent and authentic, and not making unrealistic promises, Phil believes Procyon gleans beyond other firms who may not practice this type of authenticity. Furthermore, they choose to set themselves above by being proactive in their hiring, choosing people who are good at what they do, and nurturing that talent with the right motivation. Not just comp, but something tangible so they can build, create, and grow with enthusiasm. “One Team, One Dream”: It’s a philosophy that’s not just words for Procyon, but one that is in chronic practice.
A PIVOTAL DEAL
In May 2021, Procyon Partners acquired Pivotal Planning Group, whose partners became partners in Procyon. This transaction was so much more than cutting a check to add clients, it was a meaningful partnership for both Procyon and Pivotal. What Phil describes as “awesome” was the fact that neither Procyon nor Pivotal needed the other at the time of the transaction. It wasn’t need-based, it was taking a curiosity of “what if?”, and actually doing it. This important deal has helped Procyon continue to expand its offerings and talent in a way that would be difficult and time-consuming to create organically.
By practicing authenticity and strategic growth, Phil and his founding partners have been able to build Procyon to be one of the most solid RIA firms in the U.S. They’ve afforded themselves the opportunity to make extremely beneficial deals such as with Dynasty and Pivotal and grow their business to expand their services far beyond what they ever anticipated. They’ve done the hard work, brought in incredible leaders and partners, and built Procyon to be dynamic and unified, making the sum of Procyon extremely attractive to talent, advisors, and clients alike.
Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator, and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author, and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
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