Breakaway firm Granite Financial can finally focus on growth after six years of poor service from different wirehouses, says cofounder Thomas Dornoff.

“We are feeling energized again in the business whereas the last couple of years we hadn’t grown at all because we didn’t have the support behind us,” says Dornoff, who recently shifted his practice to jumbo independent broker-dealer LPL Financial. “Now, we are really excited and looking to add another $150 million or so to our practice.”

For much of its 20-plus years, Dornoff says, the Brookfield, Wis.-based firm enjoyed a comfortable relationship as part of A. G. Edwards. “We really enjoyed the firm,” he says. “No proprietary products and no product pushing. When they got sold [to Wachovia in late 2007], we had to look around. We found another wirehouse" -- Smith Barney -- "and they got sold.”

The Granite team -- which now manages about $130 million in client assets -- stayed on after the Morgan Stanley merger, but unhappily, according to Dornoff. If a client needed a tax question answered or if the team had other service needs, it could take Morgan days to get back to them, he says.

“You don’t feel you can really take care of your clients if you’re not getting that service,” Dornoff says.


Five months ago, the team made the jump to LPL. “LPL really stood out for several reasons,” Dornoff says. “They are the fourth-largest brokerage firm in the nation, publicly traded and, for our clients, that is a big comfort coming out of the wirehouse system. Also they are self-clearing.”

LPL’s promise of better technology and service also served as a lure, according to Dornoff. Now, Granite’s staff deals with a dedicated team of 12 to 15 LPL employees -- through LPL's Service360 program -- who know them personally, Dornoff says.

“We are not just calling into a giant black hole and waiting for an answer back in three days,” Dornoff says. “It is so nice from my side when somebody on the other end says, ‘You know Tom, would you like me to follow up with you when that is completed?’ And they call back to you later that day or the next day.”

LPL can help Granite grow, says Bill Morrissey, LPL’s executive vice president for business development -- not just through efficiency gains, but by introducing it to new advisors already in the LPL network who might be a good fit for the team, or through succession deals.

“That growth can come in several ways that are not mutually exclusive,” Morrissey says.

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