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Firms in Focus: Mariner Platform Solutions

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Mariner Platform Solutions (MPS) is the next firm in our Vantage Impact Firms in Focus series.

We sat down with Brian Leitner, Head of Mariner Platform Solutions, to discuss the firm’s history, who they are looking for in a “right-fit” advisor, and what they can offer financial advisors who transition to their firm — plus our top five takeaways on what sets MPS apart from other firms in the financial services industry.

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Who is Mariner Platform Solutions?

Mariner Platform Solutions was founded as a sister company to Mariner Wealth Advisors, a 15-year old privately owned, national wealth management company. Experiencing tremendous growth especially over the last decade, Mariner Wealth Advisors now has over 500 advisors over 60 offices across the United States.

In listening to the challenges and needs of advisors, Mariner leadership saw a gap in the industry: many financial advisors want to stay independent and cultivate their own brand, but they still require the operational resources and support of a larger network. That’s why Mariner Platform Solutions was created.

With access to an integrated technology stack and every service you need to run your business, advisors working with Mariner Platform Solutions gain time back in their day — more time to spend with your clients and get to know how to serve them best. Whether it’s taxes, estate planning, trusts, investment management, or insurance strategies, MPS allows advisors to fully “plug-in” to its extensive infrastructure.

Vantage Impact Takeaways - 5 Things to Know About Mariner Platform Solutions

1. MPS values personalized support for you and your practice.

In our interview with Leitner, the “one-on-one” relationship coach really stood out to us as a key takeaway and a crucial part of the total Mariner Platform Solutions offering.

With an expert coach who meets with you on a regular basis, advisors have a support system that guides them through the inevitable stresses and challenges of running a practice, building strategies for growth and handling issues along the way.

2. With access to an entire operational infrastructure, advisors can gain time back in their day to spend with clients.

Time and time again, we hear the same thing from clients and advisors - what the clients want the most is time with their advisor, and the advisors want to spend more time with their clients.

Some firms claim to offer access to different services, but Mariner Platform Solution truly offers an all encompassing affiliation platform - where it’s technology, marketing, taxes, trusts, or back-office tasks like reconciliation, billing, and trading, advisors can outsource all aspects of their business while maintaining control and independence.

The simplicity of the Select vs Select + options allows advisors a clear path in figuring out what kind of support they need.

3. Strong tax planning background and expertise

With over 100 CPAs at the firm, we came away really impressed by Mariner Platform Solutions' experience working with advisors in providing high level tax planning and advice for their clients. Leitner reflects, “We really have been doing taxes since inception. We lead with tax advice, with a deep dive on the tax side, and it gives us the competitive advantage for our advisors.”

With financial planning and tax planning tools at their disposal, advisors can go beyond generic planning deliverables. MPS tax experts will build out a comprehensive tax plan addressing all aspects of a client’s financial situation including strategies and advice, while also reviewing and updating their tax return.

4. Extensive access to marketing and sales collateral, white-labeled for your practice.

Marketing is all about communication and demonstrating your capability through digital thought-leadership and other educational materials. Your prospects and future clients will find you online, they will want to learn from you online, and they will more than likely engage with you through digital means.

The tricky part is creating the content - how do you do this and showcase your unique brand and independence?

Our next takeaway is all about how MPS supports advisors and their practices with marketing and sales collateral and content. Not only do advisors get to keep their own brand, they can tap into MPS marketing materials. Whitepapers and other educational content, website templates, and social media posts are readily available to their advisors. The great thing is - it all can be white-labeled, so you can put on your own branding and share with prospects for your practice.

5. A network of advisors and frequent ways to share best practices

When you’re running your own practice, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own island. The ability to collaborate and share with other advisors has increasingly become more and more important.

MPS prioritizes the sharing of best practices and giving advisors different forums and opportunities to connect with one another. Leitner is especially passionate about this topic area and leads many of these initiatives himself:

  • Monthly meetings on topics ranging from onboarding with a transition team representative to common tax errors with an MPS expert CPA
  • Monthly webinars on estate planning and other topics
  • Newsletters
  • Monthly two-minute tip videos, the “Advisor Tip Series"
  • An annual in-person event

Who is Mariner Platform Solutions looking for in a financial advisor?

Mariner Platform Solutions is best for advisors who have their own practice and want to stay independent, but are looking to outsource day-to-day business operations.

The ideal MPS advisor is one who is looking to scale and grow, who sees value in partnering with Mariner’s expert teams across multiple disciplines and divisions.

Advisors should expect to transfer custodial accounts to Fidelity or Schwab upon joining MPS.

MPS helps advisors create an LLC, joining MPS as IARs under the corporate umbrella - taking care of the compliance requirements on their behalf.

In joining, advisors own 100% of their practice and generally do not sell any of their equity. That being said, if an advisor was interested in pursuing this, this would be a conversation MPS would be willing to have.

Based on the investment of time, resources, and commitment MPS makes to its new advisors, MPS will ask advisors to sign a 3-year commitment upon joining the platform.

How can you affiliate with Mariner Platform Solutions?

Mariner Platform Solutions offers two affiliation options, and the fee is a percentage of your revenue.

For 20% of revenue, you can be a Select client. You’ll have access to:

  • Transition support as you integrate to MPS platforms and services, ensuring your onboarding process is quick and efficient.
  • A dedicated relationship manager who will be your one-on-one coach, facilitating regular communication, meetings, and training so you are optimizing the MPS products and resources. Plus, that relationship manager will help you with a business plan, setting annual goals and devising strategies to meet them.
  • Advisory solutions for trusts, ibanking and business valuation, insurance, tax planning and preparation, investments, and 401(k) and corporate retirement plans.
  • Support from the practice management team that will enhance your clients’ experience. You will be part of a community where you can network and learn best practices from peers, as well as access advisor education and the MPS Advisor Toolkit.
  • Regulatory compliance.
  • Errors and omissions insurance.
  • Technology, marketing, and back-office operations.
  • Assistance in setting up your LLC.

For 30% of revenue, you can be a Select+ client, which includes all of the Select services, as well as:

  • Dedicated household-level portfolio management service;
  • Customized portfolio solutions;
  • An MPS in-house investment team that acts as an extension of your wealth team;
  • Full platform capabilities for investments;
  • And client service support.

The differences between Select and Select + really come down to Investment Management - while Select advisors have direct communication to MPS’ team of investment specialists, Select + advisors can take advantage of fully customized investment management and execution, down to the household and account levels.

The VI Summary

Mariner Platform Solutions differentiates itself with its collaborative advisor network and its ability to help advisors solve pain points and address operational challenges, so you can spend more time with your clients. Plus, it has the proven model of success and expertise in its affiliated Mariner Wealth Advisors team.

If you are an independent advisor looking to tap into that type of knowledge and support system while still maintaining your own brand and firm, Mariner Platform Solutions will be a good fit for you.

If you want to learn more about Mariner Platform Solutions, or start exploring other options, reach out to us and schedule a consultation. We can dig into the details and take you through the process.

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