A “community bear hug” from business and government leaders in St. Petersburg was among the factors that convinced Shirl Penney, co-founder and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, to relocate the financial services firm.
The company announced Tuesday morning it would move its headquarters from Manhattan to St. Petersburg. It will lease the entire 15th floor of 200 Central Ave. and plans to have 35 to 40 people in the space by year’s end, Penney said.
“We looked at a lot of options and found St. Petersburg would be the right fit for us,” Penney told St. Pete Catalyst. He cited the quality of life, lower taxes, a more affordable cost of living, access to talent and the airport as playing roles in the decision.
Dynasty provides wealth management and technology platforms for independent financial advisory firms, with billions of dollars in assets on its platforms. The company’s board of directors is made up of executives from Citigroup, Smith Barney and other financial industry leaders.
Dynasty brings high-skill, high-wage jobs, with an average annual compensation of more than $200,000.
“I am so pleased to have one of today’s most innovative and entrepreneurial firms in the wealth management industry choose St. Pete for their next headquarters location, where they will be among one of the best financial services sectors in the nation,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a news release.
Dynasty spent the past year visiting eight cities, including Nashville, Charlotte, West Palm Beach and Lexington, Kentucky, talking with mayors, economic development agencies and other businesses.
“Because our entire platform is technology-based we can run our business anywhere,” Penney said. “A lot of cities we looked at were overheated. We see this nice inflection point now in St. Pete where there’s a healthy level of growth and with a commitment from local leadership to invest in the infrastructure to support that growth.”
It also helped that St. Petersburg is home to Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF), a home-grown financial services firm.
“We’re an early stage Raymond James, a young scrappy company looking to grow aggressively like Raymond James did,” Penney said.
Dynasty worked closely with the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp.
“Dynasty’s relocation is an incredible win for our community and will continue to build our region’s reputation as a financial services hub,” said Chad Loar, 2019 chairman of the St. Petersburg EDC. “Not only is Dynasty bringing high-wage jobs to St. Pete, but the firm is looking to invest in and play an integral role in building this community.”
Penney said Dynasty was offered economic incentives to relocate, but he said the incentives did not play a major role in making the decision to move. He said the biggest incentive was community support, including from the Tampa Bay Rays and owner Stu Sternberg, a former Goldman Sachs partner.
“The Rays have been incredible. Stu and the ownership of the Rays have been so welcoming to us, coming into the community,” Penney said. “Many CEOs of other businesses that the mayor connected me with have been really proactive in reaching out. It’s been what I would call a community bear hug with local entrepreneurs, with some of the CEO s of the larger businesses, it’s been very supportive.”
Another key factor was diversity, Penney said. Forty percent of Dynasty’s employees are women, double the financial services industry average, and finding a community that is supportive of diversity was really important.
A thriving arts and culture scene in St. Pete also played a role, he said.
Robert Teachey, a senior associate at CBRE, worked with Dynasty on leasing the space. Dynasty also will have signage on the building, which has been known as Priatek Plaza and One Progress Plaza.
Dynasty is growing quickly and is in acquisition mode.
“We’re looking at opportunities to buy smaller competitors. As we do that, we’ll look where it makes sense to consolidate the back offices into St. Pete. So that, in addition to our rapid organic growth, I think will pretty quickly require us to need more space,” Penney said. “We love the building but we’re watching very closely a lot of the development going on in town, and I think we’ll be a big contributor to the economic growth of the city.”
Penney, who plans to be on the ground full-time when the buildout is complete, likely in May, is already settling in with a home in ONE St. Petersburg and season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Dynasty, with about 175 advisors, will maintain its New York office, Penney said.
Dynasty last year topped $15 billion in assets on its turnkey asset management platform. In addition, Dynasty’s investment platform is approaching $1 billion in alternative assets. Overall, Dynasty Financial Partners works with 47 registered investment advisors across the U.S. with assets over $30 billion on the firm’s platform.