In an effort to bolster recruiting from banks and credit unions, Securities America announced Thursday it has hired William J. Lavender as regional director of financial institutions.

In this position, Lavender will prospect and recruit bank/credit union business ventures and existing programs to Securities America. Lavender will work closely with banks and credit units to help them understand Securities America's philosophy and strategy.

Securities America, which is based in La Vista, Neb., is the nation's eighth largest independent broker-dealer. It was founded in 1993.

"I joined Securities America because of the shared values of the firm and the professionalism and character of its people," Lavender said. "Securities America has developed and cultivated an excellent reputation with advisors all throughout the United States, positioning it for strong growth in the months and years ahead."

Lavender was a former senior vice president at Nationwide Financial's Retirement Income Institute. He built a reputation as a mutual fund wholesaler before leaving the financial services industry in April 2011 to become the vice president of investment sales for InterWest Properties, Inc.

Mike Anderson, a first vice president of Securities America's Financial Institutions Division said Lavender's "tremendous experience in the industry, diverse background and successful track record will make him a key contributor in the growth of the financial institutions division."

Lavender joined the financial services industry in 1985 at Landmark Financial Services, where he held position of national sales manager and ultimately president.  Landmark was a start-up company that specialized in the bank marketplace and was ultimately acquired by Nationwide in 1991. In 1995, Lavender took the position of regional vice president for Western-Southern Life, and then took a similar position at Transamerica in 2000. From 2003 to 2006, Lavender was president and CEO of InSell Communications, an exclusive distributor for Fugent, a technology-based company serving the financial services industry, before accepting a position at Nationwide.