Elizabeth’s note: We keep an eye on the growth at Spire Investment Partners, formed by advisor David Blisk. This small independent broker-dealer is getting bigger even as larger competitors, like LPL, also vie for the business of hybrids. We noticed this RIA, AllSquare, because it showed up on the latest list of signatories to the Broker Protocol. Blisk’s wife, Brenda, one of the top women advisors in Virgina, runs her business, Blisk Financial Team, on the Spire platform, too.

AllSquare Wealth Management LLC, has become the latest hybrid RIA to sign on with fast-growing broker-dealer Spire Investment Partners. In the past two years, Spire has added roughly 20 firms to its broker dealer, doubling its AUM to roughly $1.5 billion in the same period, says Paul Murphy, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Spire Investment Partners.

AllSquare’s principals, Douglas and Daniel Bauer, left Des Moines, Iowa-based ING Financial Partners to form their own RIA late in the summer. AllSquare assets are custodied through Pershing Advisor Solutions, and it is using Spire for its broker-dealer.

Gravitational pull

“Most of our business has been gravitating to fee-based,” says Doug Bauer, president of AllSquare. But the company wanted to offer commission-based products like variable annuities to interested clients.

McLean, Va.-based Spire continues to win the business of small hybrid firms such as AllSquare. Some come onto the platform and under Spire’s RIA; others, such as AllSquare, have their own RIAs.

The firm’s focus on hybrids is drawing the most interest from RIAs, Murphy says. Advisors who are truly serving as fiduciaries should maintain the ability to do some commission-based work. Firms need to offer all the products that might be best for their clients, he says.

But changing the perception that fee-only advisors are best takes time. “It’s absolutely an educational process,” he says.

AllSquare’s typical client has assets averaging $500,000; many are retired or pre-retired. By forming their own RIA and joining Spire, the firm reduced client annual billing by $80,000.

“We think the hybrid model is the best of both worlds,” says Daniel Bauer, vice president, CIO and Doug’s son, “It gives us the ultimate in flexibility.”

Albany, N.Y.-based AllSquare plans to hire two to three more advisors in the next 18 months. The firm currently has $70 million in AUM and is looking to reach the $100 million mark in the next 12 to 18 months.

Because of AllSquare’s planned expansion, it became one of the latest 13 companies to join the broker protocol, a sort of no-fault recruiting agreement that allows brokers to bring their clients to a new firm without the fear of being sued — if they meet its rules. See the full list by clicking on the link at the top right of our directory page: www.riabiz.com/d.

Thirteen companies joined the Protocol for Broker Recruiting between Sept. 24, when RIABiz last reported the number, and Oct. 4. That brings the total number of companies listed to 565.

The other companies that joined were:

Whitener Capital Management, Inc.
U.S. Capital Advisors
Danversbank Private Wealth Group
HA&W Wealth Management, LLC
Cadence Wealth Management LLC
Morin Private Client Group, LLC
Retirement Design & Management, Inc.
RDM Investment Services, Inc.
Mesirow Financial Private Client (MFPC)
Royal Advisors, LLC
Royal Securities Company
BWA LLC