Joe Duran declares United Capital means little to him now beyond money and how relieved he is to pass its underdeveloped business model to Goldman Sachs
United Capital founder describes his roll-up as the baby that doesn't love you back: "It's just this thing you created"
Author Brooke Southall
August 12, 2019 at 9:10 PM
August 13, 2019 — 6:07 AM
Brooke this article is a bit too far into overtly sardonic territory. Readers with appetite for content crafted as an unabashed dressdown are already well fed by the likes of Dealbreaker… <a href="https://dealbreaker.com/2019/06/david-solomon-apologizes-to-marcus-team-for-succeeding-at-goldman-sachs" rel="nofollow">https://dealbreaker.com/2019/06/david-solomon-apologizes-to-marcus-team-for-succeeding-at-goldman-sachs</a> <a href="https://dealbreaker.com/2019/04/goldman-sacs-marcus-ads-savings-for-dumb-assholes" rel="nofollow">https://dealbreaker.com/2019/04/goldman-sacs-marcus-ads-savings-for-dumb-assholes</a> You’ve got a better publication and better work than this. There are a lot of other more worthwhile stories baking across the industry right now to be sticking on the front burner.
August 13, 2019 — 8:36 PM
Well, I hope we're not quite as 'sardonic' as Dealbreaker. I take what you say in the right spirit and even as a compliment:) And I hope we prove you right even in the next few days that there are more interesting things going on. That said, I find a critical mass of jarring intensity in the sale of a United Capital to a Goldman Sachs. Sending dozens of ex-brokers back to Wall Street in one big raft is something for an RIA reporter to get his mind around. On top of that, this RIABiz article was sparked by a column that seemed to push a reset button about how a leading RIA's best path to the future is as a piece of a giant corporation where sales and transactions go to the heart of the culture. United Capital is being called "just this thing." That kind of language is honest and maybe correct in a technical sense but the spirit of it feels like a radical departure. What Joe Duran always said to differentiate United Capital from other roll-ups was that his was not an act of financial engineering but the building of a true company that was one with its brand. Now that it is becoming a cog in the Goldman Sachs machine and being spoken of in more dehumanized "thing" terms, it seems to imply that this is a fairly ultimate act of financial engineering. the one other factor that influenced the tone of this article was the tone of the Duran column. It does not seem to be full of a bright future but more of a look back at a burdened past. It doesn't feel triumphant. It is expressed as relief, as making the best of difficult circumstances. The Duran story sure feels like a big RIA parable that captures a paradox that all RIAs face -- of how to parse a Trinity of being all human, all business entity and all fiduciary care of investors. The Duran column says that, in hindsight, it was head-spinningly more about the business entity than he had ever let on before. I get that we all exaggerate to make our points but the article pivoted around Duran's description of his company, made up of people on a mission, as a "just this thing" ( the opposite of sacred) and his hard decisions got made and digested with that perspective foremost in mind.
August 13, 2019 — 9:25 PM
Well stated, Brooke. It’s an instructive story, “sending dozens of ex brokers back to Wall Street in one big raft”. As an M&A advisor to smaller RIA’s I have heard a lot about the NFP’s and the United’s (and all those in between). The common thread is they do not ultimately deliver what they sell at the front door.
August 13, 2019 — 10:32 PM
Sadly, I am not shocked by your "take" on Joe's open and honest article in IN. Be clear, he chose GS because he believes it's best for employees and clients - and shareholders. Talk to the advisors - they aren't being put on Wall St - Wall St is coming to them to learn. I spent years with Joe and the "burden" you disdain was absolutely sincere; he knew his employees would appreciate a cash deal, even if he could afford a different structure with more upside. Joe is fine, his clients and employees are fine, his shareholders are fine, Goldman Sachs is just a new adventure with much promise. Guess what, in the big leagues we do build companies that can last beyond their founders if that is something Joe chooses. Whatever motivates you to demonize this topic? UC did a great deal that works for their strategy to be a national RIA that serves people for many decades to come. Comparing Joe's decisions against the whole universe of RIAs is immature nonsense.