[caption id="attachment_232255" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Diamond State Financial Group (DSFG) President & CEO Christopher Burgos cuts the ribbon on the firm's new headquarter offices on June 6. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSFG[/caption]
NEWARK – Diamond State Financial Group (DSFG), the largest independent financial advisory firm in Delaware, recently opened a new 15,000-square-foot headquarters in the Iron Hill Corporate Center, and it’s aiming to continue its strong growth in recent years.Previously a longtime tenant at the Christiana Executive Campus off Churchmans Road, DSFG President & CEO Christopher Burgos said they’ve considered a move for decades. The firm always stayed put out of convenience and inability to find the right space – until Burgos talked with the Medical Society of Delaware.“I was talking to the Medical Society about other things, and I came to find out that they haven't come back to the office since COVID. So, their building was sitting empty for pretty much two years,” he recalled. “We started talking about it and the building never even went to market.”A year ago, the firm completed a purchase of the office building at 900 Prides Crossing for $3.29 million, according to county land records.For Burgos, it was a full-circle moment.
[caption id="attachment_232256" align="alignright" width="300"] The new Diamond State Financial Group headquarters has room for growth for the 63-person firm. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSFG[/caption]
The complex of office buildings near Newark was originally built for credit titan MBNA, where Burgos started his career. In fact, the building that DSFG now calls home was the former training center for MBNA known as the Cole House, where Burgos spent his first day at MBNA.Designed by DSM Commercial, the new facility features nearly two dozen offices on the perimeter with an open format interior and a large boardroom for meetings. Unlike many office employers today, DSFG’s halls are busy every workday, as the firm made the decision to return to offices five days a week in June 2020 and hasn’t looked back.“The day that the governor allowed you to come back [to non-essential offices], we opened the doors, and it was pretty cool because everyone ran back,” he said. “It was just a nice feeling to know that people actually missed each other.”Being some of the first back to offices after the COVID shutdown didn’t come without some stops and starts through case spikes, and a greater degree of flexibility to work out of the office, but Burgos said that he’s glad the firm made the commitment early rather than continuing to debate a policy for months or even years now.“It forced us to know who we are as a culture … and it makes it more fun when you're together rather than Zooming in or virtual all the time,” he said.Today, DSFG has 63 employees, including 43 financial advisors, who administer more than $2 billion in client assets – an asset total that has more than doubled in the past five years. Despite the impacts of the pandemic and ensuing inflation, DSFG has grown each of the last three years, Burgos said.Internally, DSFG is also preparing to move its broker-dealer operations from Securian Financial Group to Cetera following a deal between the national firms. Burgos said that he evaluated the move to Cetera and found it to be beneficial for DSFG’s growth.“We're excited because it brings scale. They have 10,000 advisors across the country, whereas Securian had only 1,000. It's a much bigger operation, which means there's more technology, more efficiency, more scale, more access to things,” he said.DSFG will continue to look to add advisors to its ranks, both through acquisitions of boutique firms and organic growth of new talent, Burgos said. The latter being especially important as a generation of firms around the state struggle to identify successors, often leading to mergers and acquisitions.“Inexperience has been our way of building up the bench strength, whether they're coming out of college or they're making a whole career change … We have a great culture for that,” Burgos said, noting the firm also lays out specific goals if an employee aims to become a shareholder one day.While DSFG has clients all over the country, they are largely concentrated in the Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland area.“We already kind of have plans to expand outside of this area and move ourselves a little bit south, and we're hoping that it's going to come within the next couple years,” he said, noting that population migrations to the South present a big opportunity.
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