Edelman Financial continues to seek a CEO replacement for founder Ric Edelman -- but at least it's found a new chief operating officer.

While the firm originally intended to hire one executive to serve as both CEO and COO -- allowing Edelman himself to focus on his role as chairman -- it has since decided to split the roles, and promoted its current CFO, Rene Chaze, into the COO's role.

A Wall Street recruiting firm whittled a list of more than 50 candidates to a smaller list of finalists for the COO's role, Edelman said via email, adding: "Until we were able to see the type of experience and talent in the marketplace, it was difficult to assess Rene's qualifications objectively."

PREPPING FOR A DEAL

With more than $13 billion in assets under management, the RIA is one of the largest in the country -- and is working to position itself for an eventual IPO, buyout or other exit for its private equity owners.

So the founder says he wants to entrust day-to-day management to a new leader, who'll be tasked with growing the firm to a $1 billion valuation, while Edelman focuses his own efforts on financial education.

A New York Times No. 1 best-selling author, Edelman is a media personality, with his own radio show and a mission to reach middle-class investors, who comprise the majority of his more than 25,000 clients.

"Rene has proven to have outstanding judgment, acute understanding of the intricacies of our business, an outstanding relationship with his colleagues and an intense commitment to the firm’s success,” he said in a statement.

NO SUCCESSOR YET

Although he has been searching for a CEO for more than six months, Edelman says, he has yet to meet with any candidates for the top job himself.

"Our recruiting firm is in the initial stages of identifying and assembling candidates for my consideration. I expect they will present me with a dozen or more," he says. "The exercise [of searching for a COO] also helped us with our efforts to frame the new CEO position we are creating."

Also last year, Edelman brought on best-selling author David Bach, of the Finish Rich book series, as vice chairman of the firm.

While Chaze will be involved in the selection of the new CEO, as will Edelman's executive team, Bach will stay focused on growing the firm by bringing in new clients, Edelman says.

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