True Ensemble Firms: Behind the Study

By: Philip Palaveev

The ancient Romans believed that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. We similarly believe that great advice lives within a well-run business.

The best advisory firms recognize that they service three constituencies—their clients, their owner and their team. All three interact and influence each other. A good team with strong motivation is likely to produce superior client outcomes; great care of clients then tends to produce the growth and profitability that benefit owners and, in turn, create the resources to assemble a talented team.

In the last 20 years, successful advisory firms increasingly embraced calling themselves “ensembles” —a term we pioneered in a research study first published in the year 2000. An ensemble (a term simply meaning “together” in French) is a firm that approaches the client as a team and thinks of itself as an organization. An ensemble is an advisory business that surrounds clients with the care of a team, and clients prosper because of the added resources and expertise compared to a solo or silo practice that is dependent on one person. We have published extensive research on how ensembles grow faster, achieve higher levels of sustained profitability and become more valuable as businesses.

Importantly, ensembles also take great care of their people and surround the team with the organizational resources needed to grow successful careers. Ensemble owners recognize that shareholders achieve their highest return on investment when they put resources into attracting and developing the best talent.

Being an ensemble is like being healthy—it is a notion and an ideal of a continuous state of being rather than a “finish line” that you cross. A true ensemble always strives to be better—at servicing clients, growing the team and rewarding its owners.

We believe it is time for the industry to recognize true ensemble firms, and that clients will benefit from knowing who the truly healthy businesses are. Those businesses give them the best chance of creating the trusted relationships they seek.

This is why we created a survey to identify and recognize the true ensemble firms. The True Ensemble designation uses our transparent methodology to identify firms that:

  • excel at client retention and service, as evidenced by low attrition, abundance of high-quality degrees and designations and the right ratio of clients to advisors.
  • develop their team, as evidenced by the presence of career tracks, advancement opportunities and sound compensation practices.
  • grow in a profitable way, as shown by the operational performance of the firm.
  • benefit from strong leadership, as visible in the firm’s executive structure and overall success.

We will recognize and celebrate the best firms in the industry, and we hope you will join that list by participating in our study: True Ensemble™ Data Insights 2024 Conducted by BlackRock® and The Ensemble Practice

Together we are creating something amazing—an industry that takes great care of its clients and provides opportunity for its professionals and investors. We seek to showcase that success in our research, and together (ensemble, as the French say) reach the next step in our evolution.