Marty Bicknell

President and CEO, Mariner Wealth Advisors

Since becoming one of A.G. Edward’s top producers as a rookie straight out of college, it’s fair to say that Marty Bicknell has been driven to succeed in the advice business throughout his career. In 2006, after 15 years at the firm and a year spent learning about the registered investment advisory side of the business, he left Edwards with seven colleagues to form Mariner Wealth Advisors. Through acquisitions and organic growth, he has built one of the nation’s largest registered investment advisers, now managing more than $30 billion.

The fastest-growing advisory firms, Bicknell said, are those that deliver a top client experience and value proposition. Toward that end, he is constantly seeking ways to help advisers work more effectively and efficiently, leading Mariner to buy and create businesses to expand Mariner’s services, as well as invest in wealth management technology companies.

“The industry is still much smaller than the wirehouses, and extremely fragmented,” he said. “Because of that, technology companies tend to ignore it, which means advisers have to cobble together systems that tie everything together. Having an all-in-one system would be a game changer.”

Bicknell’s latest move in that direction is Mariner Platform Solutions, a joint-venture RIA that uses Dynasty Financial Partners’ desktop platform and aims to attract independent adviser representatives who don’t want to do all the infrastructure work of running an RIA firm.

“I personally meet with 200 advisers a year, and we bring on between 30 and 50,” he said. “That leaves at least 150 to 170 advisers who might be interested in the solution.”

— Evan Cooper