Cambridge Investment Research is expanding its bench of talent.

In the latest step in its multi-year succession plan -- ultimately aimed at preserving the firm's independence by putting ownership in the hands of Cambridge advisors and employees -- the independent B-D has promoted Ryan Reineke, a 13-year Cambridge veteran, to COO.

Reineke will also continue serving in his current role, as the firm’s technology chief.

“This is exciting to us,” says Amy Webber -- Cambridge's president, presumed heir apparent and outgoing COO. “It was never the intention for me to hold onto two of those big titles as long as I have. ... This is taking the next step to officially recognizing the bench.”

The move will allow Webber to focus more directly on her role as president, she says. Since 2008, when she took on the role, the company has grown substantially; revenues alone have climbed to $545 million (as of Dec. 31, 2013), from $461 million as of last year's FP50 ranking of the nation's biggest independent broker-dealers.

As part of the realignment, one of Webber’s direct reports will report to Reineke, she says. Her remaining seven direct reports -- a list that includes Reineke himself -- all attend senior-level meetings on a regular basis as the company continues to groom them as future leaders.

IN LINE FOR WEBBER'S ROLE?

The move also makes Reineke a contender to replace Webber as president if and when -- as Cambridge has said is likely -- Webber replaces firm founder Eric Schwartz as CEO.

“I think [Reineke] is one of several options for that over the years,” Webber says. “He does have half the company reporting to him now.”

Webber praises Reineke for his leadership in the operations and services areas of Cambridge; in a statement, she described him as a "key architect in our technology strategies and the customizable solutions we offer for enhancing functionality, competitiveness and profitability for Cambridge advisors as independent business owners.”

Reineke led the introduction of new advisor workstations, featuring customizable technology for a broad range of independent business models, according to Cambridge. He also has been responsible for working directly with the IBD’s clearing firms.

Before joining Cambridge, he worked for a software training firm in Atlanta and a technology startup in Boulder, according to the statement.

FOCUS ON INTERNAL SUCCESSION

Schwartz's commitment to the Cambridge succession plan was tested recently when RCS Capital Chairman Nick Schorsch, who has been on an acquisition tear in the IBD space, called the Cambridge founder to express his interest in buying the firm, which ranked No. 9 on the most recent FP50 ranking. Schwartz said he declined the offer.

Schwartz has acknowledged in the past that he would personally reap 20% less for the value of his firm though the succession plan than through an open sale, but emphasized that the internal plan “accomplishes what I want to do,” he said. “It preserves the character and quality of the firm, hopefully, for multiple generations."

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