St. Pete is a Hotbed for Financial Services

Cathie Wood, who relocated ARK Invest to St. Petersburg, Florida in 2021 is one of the latest financial services CEOs to choose the Sunshine City, but she's far from alone.

In 2018, Dynasty Financial Partners Founder, President and CEO Shirl Penney considered ditching Manhattan’s rent, traffic and weather for a better cost and quality of life, and began searching for a new headquarters location.

Dynasty is a top integrated wealth management platform for high-end registered investment advisers (RIAs) in the country with nearly $60 billion in assets on its platform. They sought a “location that provided economic leverage, a high quality of life for our team, a robust infrastructure and a strong talent pool. We also wanted a location that was in the heart of a thriving and growing financial services market – and St. Petersburg was a stand-out on all fronts,” according to Penney.

Penney said the largest factor influencing their move was community support. “Every time we came here, we got the big community bear hug,” he shared. “It felt like everyone was not just rolling out the red carpet, but they approached this as a partner.”

"We also wanted a location that was in the heart of a thriving and growing financial services market—and St. Petersburg was a stand-out on all fronts.”
Shirl Penney, CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners

Relocation Criteria

Dynasty had 10 criteria they were evaluating potential relocation cities on, including diversity, infrastructure, airport quality, city walkability and climate— and when they added it up, St. Pete had the highest score. Per Penney, “It wasn't even close.”

Dynasty made the move in 2019, and they’re elated to be here. Penney has become one of St. Pete’s biggest advocates. “Everything that we have hoped for in the move has been confirmed to the positive with our move to St. Pete.”

Growing Financial Services Sector

Penney posits they’ve been growing at a steady 30% over the past few years and he doesn’t anticipate that changing. Having just celebrated their 10-year anniversary, the firm boasts more than 300 advisors around the country who cover the company’s $60 billion in client assets. People have compared them to an earlier-stage Raymond James, the biggest financial advisory firm in their new stomping ground. Penney said, “I have a great deal of respect for what the founders of Raymond James built, and as someone who lives and works in St. Pete, I appreciate what Paul Reilly and the Raymond James team do as corporate citizens in our community.”

Raymond James and Dynasty are among the fastest growing wealth management and wealth management services companies in the country. With Dynasty joining Raymond James here in St. Pete, the city has become one the most concentrated financial services sector in Florida and the region, including an expanding fintech community.

Diversity and Inclusion

Dynasty and Raymond James also share a significant focus on diversity and inclusion, a value shared across the St. Pete business community, and the city itself. “I’m so excited to be in a community that embraces the value of diversity the way we do as a company,” Penney said.

Gordon Abel, Dynasty’s managing director, CMO and chair of the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee, stated, “We want to ensure that Dynasty is hiring a diverse workforce — especially among young professionals.” Penney says Dynasty is proud of their efforts to drive diversity. “This is a big part of our culture as we seek to be as diverse as the clients we serve, now, and into the future.”

Dynasty’s employee base is over 40% female and has a greater share of women than most firms in the industry. Dynasty has hired 14 people this year so far and anticipates adding another 10 to 11 high-paying jobs in St. Pete through the end of 2021. “The young, vibrant and incredibly diverse community in St. Pete will allow us to hire professionals from various backgrounds at various levels of the firm to integrate them into our client-first culture.”

Raymond James, one of the largest financial service providers outside of Wall Street – with over $1 trillion in client assets – and the largest employer in St. Pete, has well-established diversity and inclusion programs and networks that provide opportunities for growth, development, education and support. These include its advisor-facing Black Financial Advisors Network, Women Financial Advisors Network and Pride Financial Advisors Network, and numerous associate-facing networks, including its veterans and young professionals’ networks.

Tash Elwyn, Raymond James & Associates president and CEO, believes diversity and inclusion are vitally important to the future of the profession. “If our profession of human-to-human financial advice — a profession that I believe is very much needed, no matter the influence of technology — is to persist, we have to concentrate on cultivating new advisers and ensure this next generation is also more diverse and reflective of the increasingly more diverse clients we have the privilege of serving,” he said.

“At Raymond James, our business is people – all people – and their financial well-being. I am dedicated to being an agent of positive – lasting – change, and I am also proud to be a part of a firm that has made a similar commitment to nurture an environment where everyone feels welcomed, respected, valued and free to bring their whole selves to work,” said Elwyn.

Raymond James has been long rooted and invested in the Tampa Bay community. The firm, founded in 1962 in St. Petersburg, has since expanded its headquarters’ buildings and locations as it has continued to grow. Elwyn often references St. Pete’s “sunshine premium” – St. Pete residents enjoy 361 days of sunshine each year. Needless to say, he’s a fan of St. Pete, “When you look at the relatively low cost of doing business here, the community and cultural benefits of living in St. Pete and the Tampa Bay area, and access to a tremendous talent pool, that all leads this location to be a very resilient home base for our company,” he said.

Penney declared, “All in all, our move to St. Pete has been better than our best-case scenario.”

If you’d like to know more about how your financial services company could shine in St. Pete, get in touch! We’ll be happy to talk with you and connect you to some of the other financial innovators who call St. Pete home.

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