Charles Schwab is offering another way for RIAs and advisors with independent broker-dealers to go independent and serve mass-affluent clients. Schwab, which has 300 retail branches, says its Independent Branch Services program will extend its reach into markets that align with its core customer base, but where Schwab does not have offices, says Andrew Salesky, a Schwab senior vice president. "We're hoping to bring this to markets where the nearest branch is over 75 miles away," he says. The program is not a grab for more affluent clients, so advisors will continue to focus on households with $250,000 to $1 million in investable assets. By late June, Schwab had already fielded about 200 franchise proposals. The company hopes to open five to 10 new Schwab offices a year.


An arbitration panel says Fisher Investments, the asset management firm run by high-profile industry veteran Ken Fisher, may have to pay $376,075 in penalties for a breach of fiduciary duty to a retiree. The firm reportedly liquidated a client's bond portfolio and invested all of the proceeds in stocks. The arbitrators said Sharyn Silverstein, 64, was pressured to switch into stocks, despite her and her husband's resistance A company spokesman disputed the claim. "The decision was completely wrong on the law and the facts," says David Eckerly, a group vice president. "With more than 25,000 clients, losing an arbitration once every seven years is a record far better than any major competitor."


Wells Fargo might have spun off its H.D. Vest broker-dealer in a private equity deal to Parthenon Capital Partners, but don't expect the transaction to trigger a stampede of similar buyouts, says John Peluso, president of FiNet. The firm had been a profitable holding of Wells Fargo since the bank bought it for $128 million in 2001. The unit, however, was not a strategic fit for Wells Fargo because it specialized in offering services to accounting firms and had light production in advisory services. On average, the firm's top 20% of advisors had about $160,000. With $241 million in 2010 revenue, H.D. Vest is the 19th largest broker-dealer network, according to this year's FP50 survey. 


Alex Zaharoff has joined Citi Private Bank as a managing director and head of its investment lab in North America. Zaharoff previously worked for Carleon Capital Partners, a private firm that serves ultra-high-net-worth families. Before that, he was a managing director and head of investment strategies for HSBC Private Bank in the Americas.

Advisor Software, based in Lafayette, Calif., appointed Steve Dorsey as vice president of sales. Dorsey had been West Coast strategic account manager for Thomson Reuters' wealth management sales division. He was also vice president and national sales director at Emmett A. Larkin Co., where he managed the correspondent clearing and financial advisor sales division.

Barclays Wealth has appointed Hans Olsen as a managing director and head of its Americas investment strategy unit. Olsen will help develop the firm's strategic and tactical asset allocation and manage the U.S. nvestment strategy.

RBC Advisor Services, based in Newport Beach, Calif., hired Sanjeev K. Rajput as a senior vice president. Rajput will be responsible for new business development at the firm, which provides custody and brokerage services for elite advisors who serve high-net-worth clients. He had been vice president of sales, institutional wealth services, at Fidelity Investments, where he developed new custody and brokerage services business relationships with RIAs. - D.M.