LPL Financial, the country's largest independent broker-dealer, is looking to possibly sell itself to a buyer, according to Reuters.
The company, which also has an RIA and is the nation's largest bank TPM, declined to confirm or deny the report through a spokesman who said, "As a matter of policy, LPL does not comment on rumors or speculation."
The news comes after a jubilant annual meeting in August in which the IBD sought to position itself as confidently prepared to meet the demands of the Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule and other pressures.
The meeting followed a dive in stock price last year and the appearance of activist investors on LPL's board. The investors have a history of forcing management changes in other large firms.
"I'm kinda shocked," said former LPL adviser Andrew Ahrens of Ahrens Financial Partners in Lafayette, Louisiana.
A 17-year LPL veteran at the time, Ahrens left the firm a year and a half ago to become a fully independent RIA. He knows other veterans who have done the same, citing dissatisfaction with LPL's treatment of them.
"When companies sell, I guess it's because they are ready for someone else to run them or they need a capital infusion," Ahrens says, "or they are worried about the brokers' commission-based business because LPL derives a lot of revenue from commission-based products that are going to go away."
Reuters based its report on anonymous sources who said LPL is working with investment bank Goldman Sachs on a potential sale that could attract other companies and private equity firms.
The company's shares rose about 11% to $33.57 per share on the news of a potential sale.
The stock ended trading at $33.01 per share. LPL had a market capitalization of nearly $3 billion at market close.