Creating Sustainable Scale: How CAPTRUST’s Unique Model Drives Enormous Growth and a $1B+ Valuation
A conversation with Rush Benton, Senior Director, Strategic Growth of CAPTRUST and Louis Diamond
The ability to serve clients without conflict and with complete objectivity is typically the reason many advisors choose to build their own independent firms. Because as an RIA, advisors can design and grow their practices as they see fit—liberated from the corporate agenda that is part of the fabric of brokerage firms.
And it is through this “liberation” that we’ve seen the growth of several massive RIA firms making headlines through smart acquisition practices alongside solid organic growth.
One such firm, CAPTRUST, launched back in 1997 when Fielding Miller and David Perkins broke away from the regional brokerage firm Interstate/Johnson Lane to pursue an “innovative fee-based advisory approach” and fulfill their commitment to ensuring complete objectivity in all client interactions.
It was a journey they started with just $2.5mm in revenue and client assets under advisement of $400mm.
2 years later, assets grew to $1B.
And now, just over 2 decades later, the firm reports over $400B in assets under advisement.
It’s a success story that revolves around a firm’s determination to build upon the commitment and vision of its founders, as Rush Benton, CAPTRUST’s Senior Director of Strategic Growth, describes it.
He joined the firm back in 2013 after serving as co-founder and CEO of WealthTrust, one of the first consolidators of RIAs. Today, Rush leads the company’s wealth management acquisition efforts, in search of what he describes as “durable firms” looking to be acquired.
So when it comes to growth through acquisition, Rush knows his stuff. In this episode, he and Louis Diamond have a spirited conversation, including:
- The backstory to the firm’s success—and how the founder’s vision guided their growth from $400mm in AUA to $400B in just two decades.
- What CAPTRUST does to foster growth, garnering a $1.25B valuation—and even more specifically, how the firm manages this growth through what Rush calls “sustainable scale.”
- Their methodology of pursuing scale in two distinct yet interconnected market segments—and how this impacts their growth trajectory, as well as that of advisors under their umbrella.
- The challenges, headwinds and opportunities facing financial advisors—and specific issues facing the 401k consulting market that is leading to M&A activity.
- The decision to take on a minority investor—and how a cash inflow from GTCR will influence their M&A strategy.
Fielding and David started their journey with the goal of “sitting on the same side of the table as the client and acting as a real fiduciary.” And the result of building upon this vision has led to the creation of one of the industry’s largest independent firms.
It’s firms like CAPTRUST that have demonstrated the true potential of the independent space—and provide many learning experiences for both independent firm owners looking to gain scale and prospective breakaways who have their sights set on building an enterprise.
As senior director for strategic growth, Rush leads the company’s wealth management acquisition efforts by sourcing durable firms looking to be acquired and cultivating collaborative negotiations between CAPTRUST and those prospective wealth acquisitions. Since joining the firm in 2013, Rush has been a critical piece of growing the CAPTRUST’s private wealth assets through the acquisition of independent, fee-based registered investment advisors (RIAs). Prior to joining the firm, Rush served as co-founder and CEO of WealthTrust, one of the first consolidators of RIAs. Rush earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation. He has been in the industry since 1984.