A senior exec at Cetera Financial Group has jumped ship to head home.
Allison Couch, who has most recently served as managing director for wealth management at Cetera Financial Group, will join Advisor Group on June 2 in the newly created role of executive vice president for national sales.
The new job represents a return for Couch, who spent 17 years -- the bulk of her early career -- working for Advisor Group broker-dealers FSC Securities in Atlanta and New York-based Royal Alliance Association, serving both as a financial advisor and in advisor recruiting. She had also worked closely in the past with Advisor Group's new president and CEO, Erica McGinnis, Advisor Group said.
McGinnis said that Couch's previous experience with Advisor Group figured strongly in her candidacy for the new job. "She knows us," McGinnis says. "She spent 17 years at two of our firms. Equally important, I think, she's one of the most well-rounded people in this industry, with experience in the corporate office, compliance, sales management, business development, supervision and as president of an advisor-producer group and president of a broker-dealer."
AIG-owned Advisor Group was until recently the country's biggest network of independent broker-dealers. Cetera, which was the second largest, was acquired by RCS Capital earlier this year, to be combined with several smaller IBDs. Once all the RCS deals are closed, the resulting group is on track to be the industry's largest network and third-largest player overall in the space, behind only LPL Financial and Ameriprise.
Couch's departure from Cetera comes on the heels of Cetera CEO Valerie Brown's exit last week. On May 20, Cetera announced that another prominent woman, Erinn Ford, had been named president of Cetera Advisors, one of the firms in Cetera's network. She will report to Cetera Advisors former president and CEO Brett Harrison, who will continue in his CEO role and report directly to Cetera Financial Group CEO Larry Roth.
At Cetera Financial Group, Couch was responsible for overseeing advisory sales and growing product sales. In her new role at Advisor Group, she will report to McGinnis as she takes responsibility for developing and implementing sales and distribution strategies across the network, the company said.
She will directly manage investment advisory sales, the internal sales desk and the advanced sales and qualified plans team. She will also work closely with business development across the network's four broker-dealers: FSC, Royal Alliance, SagePoint Financial and Woodbury Financial.
Couch's role is a new one for Advisor Group, McGinnis says, noting that sales teams have reported to multiple executives in the past. Now the network's sales teams will all report to Couch, consolidating their management.
The move is part of a refocusing at Advisor Group. "Traditionally, our focus has been centered around recruiting," McGinnis says. From now on, however, the company will look to both recruit new planners and help existing network planners expand their businesses.
"How can we help existing advisors grow their practices?" McGinnis asks. "I'd love to see us create a really well-rounded financial planning offering. Of all our advisors, half are registered reps as well as financial advisors. I want to make sure that people understand investment advisory and the value it can bring to their practices and to the end client."
Couch began her career as a financial advisor and managing executive affiliated with Royal Alliance. After more than 10 years as a producing advisor, she became a vice president of business development for Royal Alliance, and then senior vice president and head of business development at FSC Securities.
After leaving AIG Advisor Group, Couch held a variety of positions around the industry. She spent several years at LPL Financial as a senior vice president, where she led the business consulting team.
At Cetera, a spokesperson said that Steve Dunlap, executive vice president and head of wealth management, will be taking over Couch's roles and responsibilities on an interim basis.
"We are grateful to Allison Couch for her service to our firm, and we wish her all the best in her new endeavors," the spokesperson said. "We have a very strong and deep management bench that will deliver seamless support for all advisors, while we commence a search process for a permanent replacement for this role. ... With the expanded resources, firms and scale of Cetera Financial since our merger with RCS Capital, we expect a number of top internal and external candidates for this role to quickly emerge."
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This story was updated on May 23.