"The return of the boutique firm"

Richardson GMP CEO Andrew Marsh talks advisor retention and the survival of Canadian independents in the wake of his firm's acquisition of Macquarie Private Wealth and dozens of advisors jumping ship.

With another acquisition under his belt, Richardson GMP CEO Andrew Marsh has shifted focus from acquiring to consolidating and retaining. And, it’s gone better than he expected.

Since RGMP – now one of Canada’s largest independent wealth management firms – acquired Macquarie Private Wealth, Ltd. for $132 million last September, Marsh says his firm has managed to keep on about 95 per cent of the projected staff.

He is ‘pleased’ with the progress.

“The feeling I get is that advisors are either committing to this new company or they’re at least giving it a chance over the next 12 months to prove how good a firm we are,” he told WP in a recent interview.  “I will say retention has gone very well and results are better than expected.”

His feelings prevail, even after an announcement in the New Year – alongside independent firm, Dundee Goodman Private Wealth (DGPW) – that 60 advisors would jump ship to the boutique firm, a division of Dundee Securities Ltd. According to Marsh, of these 60 advisors, 100 per cent are from Macquarie, with two or three teams originally belonging to RGMP before it folded into GMP Capital in 2011.

But, why didn’t these 60 advisors make the RGMP grade? Marsh acknowledges their hard work and above-par client relations, but plain and simply explains that they did not meet RGMP's financial requirements. (continued.)


“We have a model that Richardson GMP has been built on for the last 10 years, and it has always been focussed on addressing the cost structure of a business, which is that scale is not just the number of bodies,” he said.  “We believe that scale is the most assets with the fewest and highest quality, most professional advisors.”

So, how does Marsh react to critics, who see this latest move as simply a shuffle of advisors and a way of weeding out the wheat from the chaff. “What we’ve done is sent a message internally and externally that we’ve got a disciplined business model that we’re not willing to compromise on,” he said.  

With the loss of almost two dozen independent firms in Canada over the last two years, what does the future hold for boutique wealth management firms, through Marsh’s eyes?

“(RGMP believes) that Canada needs to have more strong independents, that clients deserve more choice than just dealing with bank firms and the strength of an independent landscape is very important,” said Marsh.

“The beauty of being an independent firm … is that I hope it reminds people of the fantastic cultures that existed at boutique firms … The return of the boutique culture is something that I’d love to see.”

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