Industry veteran Steve Dunlap, who previously held two top jobs at The Bank of New York Mellon, is joining Cetera Financial Group as executive vice president, wealth management.

Dunlap, who most recently was both president and CEO of Lockwood Advisors, the retail distribution arm of BNY Mellon, and president of Managed Investments at the bank’s Pershing unit, replaces Barnaby Grist, who is leaving the firm Friday after three-plus years to spend time with his family.

Grist launched Cetera’s wealth management platform when the company was re-branded after private-equity firm Lightyear Capital bought three brokerage firms from ING Groep NV in early 2010. Grist was a high-profile hire from Charles Schwab, where he was senior managing director of strategic business development.

Dunlap will be expected to maintain the fee-based wealth management platform’s “momentum” as an industry leader, Cetera chief executive officer Valerie Brown told Financial Planning.

The platform, which is used by approximately 6,500 independent advisors, and Cetera’s emphasis on a hybrid registered investment advisor/broker-dealer model are “key differentiators” for the company in the advisory market, Brown says.

Cetera and Dunlap’s biggest challenge will be to make “production-focused brokers into fee based advisors capable of actually delivering a full suite of services,” according to industry consultant Tim Welsh, president of Larkspur, Calif.-based Nexus Strategy.

“While strategically wealth management is the right thing to do,” says Welsh, “you need the correct set of raw materials to work from, including investing in financial planning training, education and requiring reps to get advanced designations to professionalize their sales force. This requires patience and a big investment.”

Dunlap says he is “committed to the fee-based business and dually registered advisors. This is the fastest growing sub-segment of the business and I think it’s the best way to do business. It’s what attracted me to Cetera. We’re committed to that model and to empowering advisors with the best possible service, investment products and support.”

At BNY Mellon, Dunlap was credited with improving the managed account technology platform, and upgrading the delivery of institutional-quality investment advice and manager research. He was previously president of Finetre Corporation, a supplier of software and e-commerce solutions to the RIA and insurance industries, and serves on The Money Management Institute’s Board of Governors.

Both Brown and Dunlap were optimistic that advisors would be able to grow their businesses organically, and disputed recent assertions by the Boston Consulting Group, in its recent Global Wealth Report, that a market slow-down would result in advisors having to “steal” clients from each other to grow their business.

“We’re seeing a boom in the retirement sector with people leaving full-time employment and a lot of assets in motion,” Brown says. “We have a strong track record in net new assets and I expect Steve to maintain that momentum.”

Growth opportunities will include an “underserved” market for advice delivery, Dunlap says.

In March Cetera signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tower Square Securities and Walnut Street Securities, independent broker-dealer units of MetLife, which will become part of Cetera Advisor Networks, one of the company’s four units. The others are Cetera Advisors, Cetera Financial Specialists and Cetera Investment Services.