In September 2008, with the global financial crisis spiraling, Jeff Concepcion says he
was “basically shown the door” by his longtime employer, Lincoln Financial Group,
where he was an executive. In early 2009, he regrouped and started Stratos Wealth
Partners, offering a platform for wealth advisors who were independent or wanted to
“Our business model looks different than a lot of the traditional RIAs,” says Concepcion,
54. “Most of our affiliates are CEOs and business owners. While they own their own
companies, they’re leveraging the size, scale, tools, infrastructure, and pricing of a
much larger firm.”
“It has always been top of mind for me that you don’t see enough diversity in our industry, and it’s such an incredibly attractive business for so many reasons. ”
— Jeff Concepcion
Stratos, based in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, Ohio, now supports about 300
affiliate advisors in 100 locations nationwide. It has 70 in-house staff and internal
Barron’s: Does Stratos offer an alternative to traditional mergers and acquisitions
for wealth management firms?
Jeff Concepcion: We’ve bought firms outright and we’ve invested in firms that are still
operating autonomously. So flexibility is one of the most attractive things about the way
we approach succession. We’ve begun to make more and more minority investments
where the advisors can continue with their brand and their service model. Our platform
helps smaller advisors compete. It also provides for flexibility for folks where succession
is an issue.
What about the issue of wealth manager succession?
It’s a really intimate business where you’re holding people’s hands, guiding them and
advising them over the years. You can’t just pull out Bob and put in Sue. The message
that resonates best with clients is you still have Bob, but now we’re adding value to the
team. What should happen over a period of a couple of years is that Sue becomes the
lead advisor and more prominent.
What is your firm doing to address diversity?
I’m Hispanic. It has always been top of mind for me that you don’t see enough diversity
in our industry, and it’s such an incredibly attractive business for so many reasons.
We have two shops that joined us about two years ago. They are [headed by] two
African-American advisors, Vicki Brackens in Syracuse, N.Y., and Kenneth Royster in
Norfolk, Va. They have a really neat initiative called Heritage Financial Partners that I’m
working on closely with them. They talk about your heritage, your culture, your
background, where you come from, and how that can be an attribute as you look to
serve diverse clients.