For anyone who’s still looking for an explanation of the mysterious fireworks show on Dec. 8 near the St. Pete Pier, we have the answer. It was put on by Dynasty Financial Partners as part of the firm’s 10th anniversary celebration — an event that was recorded so it could be enjoyed by employees, clients and partners around the country.
“We closed out the 10-year celebration with that show,” founder and CEO Shirl Penney said, “and I did a toast down near the pier, on the beach.”
The event was scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic, Penney said, but it still featured appearances by St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, retired NBA player and coach Avery Johnson, sports drink entrepreneur Mike Repole and country music star Clint Black, who performed a private, virtual concert for the Dynasty crew. Also offering their congratulations were top executives from Charles Schwab, BlackRock Inc. and Fidelity Investments, which goes to show how quickly Dynasty has amassed vast amounts of influence, respect and clout in the financial services industry that it disrupted.
“It was just tremendous,” Penney said, “lots of shout-outs and congratulations, just an amazing kind of feel-good evening to reflect on where we’ve been, how far we’ve come and to talk a little bit about where we’re going over the next 10 years.”
Dynasty, a fast-growing provider of wealth management and technology platforms for independent financial advisory firms, moved its headquarters from Manhattan to St. Pete in mid-2019. The move was a major win for the city — Dynasty boasts more than $50 billion in total assets on its platforms and compares itself to an early-stage Raymond James. The privately owned firm does not disclose its revenues but Penney says they’ve been growing at a steady 20 percent clip over the past few years and he sees no reason why that might change.
Dynasty hired 30 people locally last year, bringing its St. Pete-based staff to 65. The company maintains small regional offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, but recently shuttered its midtown Manhattan location and consolidated operations at its St. Pete headquarters, located at 200 Central Ave.
“We’re still finalizing budgets for 2021, but we’re probably going to hire another 25 people here locally,” Penney said. “And these are great, high-paying jobs in financial services.”
Dynasty’s success stems from a business model that created a whole new subsector of the financial services and wealth management industry. Its platform offers a way for financial advisors to break away from industry giants like UBS, Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch and start their own firms, but with back-office and technology solutions powered by Dynasty, which takes a cut, usually around 20 percent, of advisors’ revenues. That’s a far cry, Penney said, from the 50 percent that a big player would take.
“So there’s some benefits to them, both from an income perspective,” Penney said, “but also because they get to own their own equity.”
Penney, who said he founded Dynasty in his garage in 2009, at the nadir of the financial crisis and housing market crash, isn’t surprised at the firm’s success.
“I worked over two and a half years for free, trying to put the business plan together and raise the capital and ask my best friends to jump in,” Penney said. “I did believe that we would be here — if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done it. But what has exceeded my expectations — and there’s no way to know this until you do it — is the relationships we have with our clients and the impact we’ve had on the industry, which is far bigger than the size of our business.”
Summing up his approach to taking risks, Penney added, “If you want to take over the island, you have to burn the boats.”