Staff members from Dynasty Financial Partners showed up at their new office at 200 Central Avenue at 6:30 a.m. Friday for a milestone in the company’s move to St. Petersburg.
Thirty minutes later, a flatbed truck bearing a massive sign with Dynasty’s name pulled up to the building. Cameras clicked and staff members beamed.
“There were a lot of photos and a lot of pride,” Shirl Penney, co-founder and CEO, told the St. Pete Catalyst. “This is a business that started out of my garage and some of my best friends in the world worked for free for months and months, in some cases even as long as a year before we launched the business, so there’s a tremendous amount of ownership, literally and figuratively. We’re excited to be here in St. Pete, and the sign is a reflection of that.”
Dynasty, which provides wealth management and technology platforms for independent financial advisory firms, announced in February it would relocate its headquarters from Manhattan to St. Petersburg. The company is leasing the entire 15th floor at 200 Central. Renovation work is underway and Penney expects to be able to move into the space around mid-July.
“It’s very cool space, very open. We have some great team building space and a high-end ping-pong table where I’m sure we’ll have some battles. We have a keg that is timed — it won’t turn on until 5 o’clock — and we’re going to have departments compete against each other and they’ll get to pick a favorite local beer for the kegerator,” Penney said. “There are fantastic client conference rooms, great colors and great lighting. I think it will be a great asset to the company to help with our culture. I can’t wait to have our clients come and see it.”
A dozen people are working in temporary quarters at 200 Central now.
“The first five people we hired are all women here in the market. I wouldn’t say that was by design, its just that they were just the best people for the job,” he said. “Dynasty as a whole is really proud of our diversity. We have almost 40 percent female partners in the business. Industry averages are below 20 percent in financial services.”
The company expects to have about 30-35 employees in St. Pete by the end of this year, and to more than double that by the end of 2020.
“We’re interviewing 15 people a day. We literally have had in the last 60 days almost 1,000 resumes come in for about 20 open positions,” Penney said.
While the average income for a professional in St. Petersburg is in the mid to high $40,000 range, the average employee at Dynasty makes just under $200,000; that includes equity appreciation, a Dynasty spokeswoman said. That means the company will have a broad economic impact as workers eat at restaurants, buy homes and get involved in philanthropic efforts.
At least eight cities courted Dynasty, and Penney took a year to make up his mind about the move, he said.
“People realize we’re an innovative new financial services company, growing rapidly where the industry is going, with the independent wealth management movement,” he said. “People were very creative but none more so than St. Pete.”
St. Petersburg offered a unique lifestyle for employees as well as operational leverage — no state income taxes, less expensive real estate, and a lower cost of labor, although the availability and quality of talent is as high here as in New York, Penney said.
Dynasty has retained its New York office, and still has employees there, but Penney has moved to St. Petersburg and his wife and two daughters, ages 10 and 13, will join him as well.
“I’m here now, and you’ll see me around town. I’ve been having a lot of fun learning about all the great restaurants around town,” he said.
Sports is another big draw. Penney has gone to Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies games, and is looking forward to getting involved with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He admires the community commitment that Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has made to downtown Tampa. Additionally, several of Dynasty’s board members have connections to Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg, a former Goldman Sachs partner, and Vinik, former manager of the Fidelity Magellan fund.
But Penney, who grew up in Maine, admits to being a Boston Red Sox fan.
“My hope is the Red Sox and the Rays block out the Yankees, win the division and win the wild card,” he said.