Behind the Scenes of the Dynasty Deal with Founder & CEO Shirl Penney

Shirl Penney, Founder & CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners

In February 2019, the New York City-based wealth management and technology provider, Dynasty Financial Partners, announced the relocation of its headquarters from Manhattan to St. Petersburg, Florida. Founder & CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, Shirl Penney shares why St. Pete proved to be the perfect fit for the high-growth financial services firm.

What were the other cities of consideration and what was the ultimate standout factor about St. Pete?

Moving our headquarters out of Midtown Manhattan was not something we took lightly.  We spent over a year in due diligence and made over 20 trips to various cities, including Albany, Charlotte, Lexington, Nashville, and West Palm.  We came to the St. Pete and Tampa area 5 times during the process.  While all of the cities had unique benefits and we were hosted fantastically in every location, we ultimately chose St. Petersburg because it clearly checked the most boxes for us.

The area has fantastic infrastructure to support its growth, including airports to support our satellite locations, a very business-friendly climate, excellent talent availability and relative affordability of that talent, a supportive tax environment, walkability and access of the city, prime office location, and ultimately, the community.

Employees of Dynasty Financial Partners explore St. Pete's arts scene during a relocation exploration visit.

I tell people we had a total community bear hug from the Mayor and his team, the EDC, many business owners in town of all different sizes and industries, the Rays and Rowdies, restaurant owners, hotel operators, real estate professionals, right down to our drivers when in town; everyone had such great pride in St. Pete and where it’s going and collectively led a team-based sale to make us feel like they all really wanted Dynasty as part of that growing and thriving community.  We couldn’t be more excited with our decision.

How did the local financial services industry impact your decision?

The financial services sector is the largest employment sector in St. Pete and I don’t think that is widely known around the country.  What this equates to is fully built out infrastructure and exceptional community support for businesses in that sector.  We have already found great local talent and in turn are moving some fantastic talent into the city.  We hope to help attract, recruit, and grow the sector in the area and see no reason why it can’t become one of the top regions in the country for finance professionals that want to work hard and play hard. I also think there is something tangible about living in a place where so many people come to vacation and refresh, especially when you work in a high stress industry such as financial services.

How did the affordability from a business standpoint and from a cost of living standpoint for your employees impact Dynasty’s decision?

The delta in savings for our employees and company in terms of real estate (both residential and commercial), talent, taxes, and overall cost of living were all important items on our evaluation list.  For a business that is growing quickly like us, being able to add operating margin by lowering expenses while also enhancing the quality of life for our employees is a win-win for everyone.  And as a kicker, the sunshine was free!

How did access to talent play a role in the relocation?

Availability of talent is paramount to a quickly growing firm and a good feeder system from local colleges is a major plus.  With 25 percent of bachelor’s degrees from the local colleges and universities being awarded in concentrations related to finance, we are already seeing an abundance of interest from local talent.

Dynasty employees at 3 Daughters Brewing during a visit to St. Pete in advance of relocating.

On top of that, with the city having such a high quality of life, we see the ability to draw talent from across the nation to join us in St. Pete. As more and more businesses realize the benefits of the area and locate here, the talent pool will continue to grow and become increasingly dynamic.  With it already starting at such a high level, we are excited to see how the talent pool evolves in the years to come.

What was it about the 200 Central building that you found to be appealing?

We are very excited about our new office at 200 Central and can’t wait to move in.  Our younger employees love how close it is to the action of downtown and the dozens of great apartment communities.  Many of our executives enjoy how easy it is to commute to, given the 2-hour commutes some of them experience daily in Manhattan.

Dynasty Financial Partners will occupy the full 15th floor of the 200 Central building in downtown St. Petersburg

We will likely have team members with boats out front in the marina and we are excited about the peer development that can happen so easily over lunch or cocktails at the many exceptional restaurants and bars right outside the building. We are also within walking distance to the Rowdies and Rays stadiums and plan to enjoy our season tickets to both.  It is quite a statement to say that from the office, we will have easy access to both the airports and the beach, depending on what the day calls for.

How will the relocation impact Dynasty's growth trajectory? 

Dynasty is one of the fastest growing firms in the wealth management space in the nation.  We expect that our new location and partnership with the local community will help accelerate that growth.  By widening our margins over time, we will be able to invest in more technology and resources for our clients.  As mentioned before, alongside our clients, our talent is key to our growth and we are confident our headquarters in St. Pete will help us in that regard.  We are also excited to bring our clients to St. Pete, as we host many home-office visits, and believe that what we are doing in the area will be a great sales tool.

How is Dynasty continuing to engage with the EDC and other community partners as the company transitions?

Quite simply put, the EDC and its entire team have been amazing.  From the initial introductory meetings to all of our due diligence trips to now with trips for employees looking to get educated on the area, they have been fantastic.

They are exceptional ambassadors for the area and we are looking forward to joining the team to help them shout from the rooftops about how great St. Pete is and will do all that we can to help them continue to grow the community with the right type business leaders.  The EDC will be instrumental in our coordinating a successful transition and we are confident in our ability to return the favor as community partners in the years to come.

Business aside, what excites you personally about the move?

My wife and I have been coming to the area for years, as we have family on Anna Maria Island, and are excited to be able to spend much more time with them once the business is down here.  I am personally excited to see the positive impact I know my business partners will make in the community.  Many of them are leaders in their current communities in various charitable causes, schools, etc. and I know they will be quick to engage in St Pete as well.

 To learn more about Dynasty Financial Partners, visit:  https://dynastyfinancialpartners.com/