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Fierce IBD competition: 27 moves, M&A deals — and even the Rolling Stones

The largest recruiting announcement of the year so far stands out in a roundup of recent news shaping the independent broker-dealer sector.

Private Advisor Group — an LPL Financial hybrid RIA with more than $19 billion in assets under management — recruited more than a dozen advisors from one of the No. 1 IBD’s top rivals. While it found itself bidding goodbye to a major team, Raymond James has also taken proactive steps to build up its next generation of advisors for the future.

Business development in the IBD channel often comes from high-profile recruiting moves that remain the lifeblood of an industry focused on the movement of assets from one platform to another. They also flow from M&A, organic growth and any number of services or resources that BDs, custodians, insurers, tech vendors and other stakeholders provide to advisors.

It’s no wonder, then, that these nearly 30 announcements below run the gamut from an education organization for annuity writers and fund companies sponsoring the Rolling Stones to a midsized IBD with a new podcast network. The complex equations that decide where advisors and assets are going could revolve around all kinds of factors in one practice or another.

And, judging simply based on the public announcements tabulated by Financial Planning, LPL is galloping ahead. While competitors have unveiled only one ex-LPL team that affiliated with a new IBD firm in 2020, LPL has disclosed at least 12 practices that dropped a rival for the No. 1 IBD. It comes after LPL also added a record $35 billion in recruited client assets last year.

To make sense of a noisy, fast-changing sector, scroll through the following 27 briefs to get up to date. For last month’s roundup, click here.

All AUM, client asset and office of supervisory jurisdiction figures come from the firms in question. All information about dates of new affiliations are from FINRA BrokerCheck.

Global Advisor Group
Location: Reston, Virginia

Financial advisors: James Barnette and 13 other advisors

Total client assets: $610 million

Date of move: Jan. 29

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Remark: Private Advisor Group — LPL’s largest hybrid RIA and super OSJ with more than 650 representatives — unveiled the largest recruiting move of the year to date in the IBD channel, in terms of client assets and number of advisors changing firms. The team led by 33-year industry veteran James Barnette has 22 employees and clients in all 50 states plus 105 other countries. Global Advisor had been affiliated with the Raymond James IBD for 21 years.
Alliance for Lifetime Income
Location: Washington, D.C.

Rock tour sponsorship: Rolling Stones 2020 “No Filter” tour

Date of announcement: Feb. 6

BD parent firms in organization: Lincoln Financial Group, MassMutual, Equitable, Transamerica

Remark: The parent companies of the four of the largest remaining insurance-owned BDs are part of the 24 insurers and asset managers in the organization. For the second year in a row, the Alliance for Lifetime Income — which is devoted to promoting annuities as the solution to America’s longevity challenges — is sponsoring the legendary rock group’s tour. The 15-city tour starts in San Diego in early May.
USA Financial’s Advisor Advancement Podcast Network
Location: Ada, Michigan

Financial advisors: 199 advisors

Total client assets: $4.6 billion

Date of launch: Feb. 11

BD: USA Financial Securities

Remark: The BD and producer of a nationally syndicated radio show combined five podcasts into the same channel available on its website: “Advisor Skinny,” “Advisor Elevation,” “16 Ways from Sunday,” “UnNiched” and “The Reg Report.” Their subject matter includes practice management, marketing, compliance and business development. In addition to its main BD and corporate RIA, USA Financial has a TAMP, a money manager, a multimedia marketing firm and an insurance wholesaler.
OWL Private Wealth Advisors
Location: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Financial advisors: Jeffrey Smith and Brian Thomas

Total client assets: $120 million

Date of move: Jan. 30

New BD/RIA: Kestra Private Wealth Services

Prior BD: UBS, Cambridge Investment Research

Remark: Smith dropped UBS after eight years of affiliation and Thomas left Cambridge after 10 years with the firm. The advisors opted for Kestra as their BD and its hybrid RIA catering to ex-wirehouse teams.
Susquehanna Financial Advisors
Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Financial advisor: Ed Gormley

Total client assets: $140 million

Date of move: Feb. 6

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Securities Service Network (Ladenburg Thalmann)

Remark: Gormley returned to affiliating with the No. 1 IBD, having spent nine years there earlier in his career. The veteran advisor is serving as a mentor to Melissa Puija, the 26-year-old practice’s financial consultant, and Craig Foer, its senior tax specialist.
Advisor Group’s W Forum
Location: Los Angeles

Financial advisors: Nearly 400 advisors and assistants

AUM: Grew by 59% in 2019 among practices in attendance at event

Date of Event: Feb. 10 to 12

BDs: Royal Alliance Associates, Woodbury Financial Services, SagePoint Financial and FSC Securities

Remark: Advisor Group’s annual conference for women advisors featured a “visionaries” series of five Ted Talk-style presentations by advisors and contributions by the IBD network to charities of their choice. This year, the five presenters were Clare Ciervo of McVittie Financial Advisors in Auburndale, Massachusetts; Cortney Heykoop of Clover Leaf Wealth Strategies in Leesburg, Virginia; Rhonda Kerkhoff of Focus Financial in Redwood Falls, Minnesota; Megan Kinworthy of Tutschulte Financial Planning in Chesterfield, Missouri; and Alice Tang of BPG Wealth Management in Clackamas, Oregon.
Jim and Andrew Wallisch
Location: Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania

Total client assets: $385 million

Date of move: Jan. 30

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Remark: The father-son duo chose to affiliate with the No. 1 IBD and its corporate RIA after the elder Wallisch had spent 23 years with Raymond James Financial Services. Jim Wallisch’s other son serves as the practice’s director of technology and marketing, and the practice also has a strategic partnership with a CPA firm.
Orion Advisor Solutions
Location: Omaha, Nebraska

New enterprise agreement firms: Ameritas Investment Company, Benjamin F. Edwards and Great Valley Advisor Group

Total client assets: More than $35 billion combined at the three firms

Date of agreements: Feb. 11

Remark: The TAMP and tech firm reached agreements to provide its advisor desktop and outsourced portfolio offerings through two BDs in Ameritas and Benjamin F. Edwards and one LPL hybrid RIA, Great Valley. Orion’s advisor tech platform spans more than $1 trillion in AUA and 3.3 million accounts.
Atria Wealth Solutions’ Unio platform
Location: New York

Financial advisors: 1,300 reps

Date of launch: Feb. 6

BDs: CUSO Financial Services, Sorrento Pacific Financial and Cadaret, Grant

Parent: Atria Wealth Solutions

Remark: The private equity-backed wealth management holding company rolled out its new advisor desktop at three of its IBDs, with Next Financial Group and Western International Securities slated to launch Unio by the end of the year. The features include compliant texting with clients and a new customer relationship management platform. Hundreds of advisors participated in the development of Unio through feedback sessions and pilots. Atria announced in November that it had agreed to purchase Western; after the expected closure in the fourth quarter, its IBDs will amount to some 2,500 advisors and $80 billion in AUA.
Synergy Wealth Alliance
Location: Maitland, Florida

Financial advisors: Christopher Bordner

Total client assets: $650 million

Date of move: Dec. 4

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Cetera Advisors

Remark: Bordner moved his 15-advisor OSJ enterprise to LPL and its corporate RIA after five years with rival Cetera’s second largest IBD. Using a shared support system connecting the independent practices with in-house resources, Bordner says his goal is to double the size of the OSJ every three years.
Sacramento Credit Union's SCU Investment Services
Location: Sacramento, California

Financial advisors: Tarik Eldin and Mike Hastings

Total client assets: $200 million

Date of move: Jan. 10

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Cetera Advisor Network

Remark: The credit union’s seven branches in the Sacramento area include wealth management under the investment program led by Eldin, Hastings and registered sales assistant Deanna Mohorich. The two reps had spent a combined 27 years affiliated with Cetera’s largest IBD before switching to LPL and its corporate RIA.
Fidelity’s Integration Xchange
Location: Boston

Advisory firm clients: 13,500 firms

Total client assets: $3.2 trillion in discretionary assets across firm

Date of platform enhancement: Feb. 18

Remark: After launching Integration Xchange in October 2018, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions has rolled out new tools like more robust testing capabilities for the digital store with more than 175 third-party vendors. Fidelity’s client RIAs and IBDs now have bulked-up, customized previews of how each vendor’s software or service would look on their particular advisor workstations. The custodian has also unveiled deeper integrations with Riskalyze, Envestnet’s Tamarac and Wealthbox CRM, along with making Laser App available in the store.
LPL’s ClientWorks Connected
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial advisors: 16,464 advisors

Total client assets: $764 billion

Date of new integration: Feb. 19

BD: LPL Financial

Remark: As part of the roughly dozen or so deep integrations under ClientWorks Connected, LPL adapted its account opening tool to its AdvisoryWorld proposal generation software. Under a time-saving change for advisors, data from LPL’s CRM and AdvisoryWorld will now show up automatically when onboarding clients.
FMG Suite
Location: San Diego

Financial advisors: 40,000 advisors and insurance agents

Date of platform enhancement: Feb. 19

New BDs with FMG Suite enterprise agreements in last four years: Advisor Group, Avantax Wealth Management, Cetera Financial Group, and Waddell & Reed

Remark: The marketing vendor behind advisor websites, multimedia content and other tools says its revenue has jumped fivefold in the past four years with help from new enterprise agreements among prominent IBDs. In addition to new capabilities gained through FMG’s acquisitions of Platinum Advisor Strategies and MarketingPro, FMG is also rolling out a new AI-powered analytical tool called “Curate” that helps advisors share the most relevant news based on their interests and the level of engagement in previous social media posts or emails.
Triton Financial Planning Group
Location: Red Bank, New Jersey

Financial advisors: Jim Freisen and Jordan Celkupa

Total client assets: $155 million

Date of move: Jan. 9

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: SagePoint Financial

Remark: A CPA and former accountant to mutual funds, Freisen teamed up with Celkupa nearly a decade ago in a practice that also includes a tax specialist. Freisen had spent 15 years affiliated with the Advisor Group IBD before switching to LPL and its corporate RIA.
Carson Group’s Carson CX
Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Practices: 120 partner offices, including 24 Carson Wealth offices

AUM: More than $12 billion

Date of AUM milestone: Feb. 17

BD: Cetera Advisor Networks

Remark: Ron Carson’s hybrid RIA and Cetera OSJ informed partner practices that the firm would cover all technology expenses for Salesforce, Orion, Smarsh and Egnyte software, effective on April 1, and eMoney Advisor on May 1. Carson’s platform now spans more than $12 billion in AUM, according to the firm.
Joyn Advisors
Acquired by: Wealth Enhancement Group

Location: Atlanta

Financial advisors: Founders David and Matthew Geller, 10 other advisors

Total client assets: $1.3 billion

Expected date of close: April 1

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Securian Financial Services

Remark: LPL hybrid RIA and OSJ Wealth Enhancement Group struck an agreement to purchase its 32nd office and grow beyond its current client-asset base of $17 billion. Private equity firm TA Associates has been backing Wealth Enhancement’s substantial acquisition moves since purchasing a majority of the firm last year from Lightyear Capital. The new Atlanta office brings more than 35 employees and a behavioral focus led by its founding brothers.
Apogee Wealth Advisors
Location: New York City and Pleasantville, NY

Financial advisors: Karen Roth and Kerri Kimball

Total client assets: $100 million

Date of move: Feb. 10

New BD: Commonwealth Financial Network

Prior BD: Cambridge Investment Research

Remark: Roth and Kimball moved their practice’s BD and RIA affiliations back to Commonwealth after seven years with Cambridge. The two advisors also have previous tenures with MassMutual’s IBD in their combined 25 years in the financial services, and Roth started her career with UBS in 1998.
Ivory Wealth Management
Location: Essex, Connecticut

Financial advisors: Charles Crilly, Jeremy Soboleski and Tiffany Knoop

Total client assets: $214 million

Date of move: Jan. 2

New BD: Kestra Financial

Prior BD: Commonwealth Financial Network

Remark: The practice founded by Crilly switched its BD and RIA to Kestra after five years with Commonwealth. He also has earlier tenures with Morgan Stanley, A.G. Edwards & Sons and Fidelity Investments. The ensemble team includes an operations manager and a fixed-income strategist.
Ameriprise’s Women Advisor Summit
Location: San Antonio

Financial advisors: 600 advisors, field leaders and corporate employees

Date of conference: Last month

BD: Ameriprise

Remark: The Ameriprise Franchise Group and the firm’s Women’s Empowerment Network led the three-day event. The program featured practice management sessions, keynote speeches and insights from the firm’s executives.
Wescom Financial Services
Location: Pasadena, California

Financial advisors: 19

Total client assets: $1.3 billion

Date of announcement: Feb. 24

IBD: CUSO Financial Services

Remark: The bank investment program-focused firm retained one of its largest relationships when the 200,000-member credit union chose to keep CUSO as its secondary BD and RIA clearing partner and back-office provider after an “extensive” request-for-proposal process. The 80-year-old Wescom has more than 13,000 client accounts in its investment program.
Northwestern Mutual
Location: Milwaukee

Financial advisors: More than 5,000 producing reps

Total investment client assets: $161 billion

Date of annual financial disclosure: Feb. 25

BD: Northwestern Mutual Investment Services

Remark: The giant insurer’s BD boosted client investment assets by 26% in 2019 to a record $161 billion, and its life insurance sales jumped 10% to a new high as well. Even after a policyowner dividend set aside $6 billion out of Northwestern’s $29.9 billion in revenue, the firm earned $1.27 billion in net income. Northwestern’s bottom line soared by 62% from the previous year, according to the firm’s figures.
Raymond James Wealth Management Associate Program
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Aspiring financial advisors from: 20 branch locations

Date of launch: January

IBD: Raymond James Financial Services

Employee BD: Raymond James & Associates

Remark: The two-year program for branch-level employees prepares the advisor candidates for their Series 7 and 66 licensing exam and careers as full-service planners. More than half of the first class came from other professions or are recent college graduates, and over 70% are women or people of color. The program feeds into the firm’s formal new advisor training program upon completion.
Arete Wealth Silicon Valley branch
Location: Campbell, California

Financial advisor: Rick Brown

Total client assets: $30 million

Date of move: Dec. 13

New BD: Arete Wealth Management

Prior BD: Lincoln Financial Network

Remark: Brown had spent more than two decades affiliated with Lincoln before picking Arete as his BD and RIA. Lead advisor Matt Roberson left Lincoln for Arete last May, and the branch has $160 million in AUM and $1.6 billion in assets under advisement after Brown joined in December.
Matthew Chisholm
BD: Commonwealth Financial Network

Title: Senior vice president for RIA services and practice management

Prior role: Head of practice management and consulting, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions

Financial advisors: More than 2,000 advisors, including 119 who are fee-only

Date of appointment: Jan. 20

Remark: The 20-year industry veteran left Fidelity to lead Commonwealth’s newly combined RIA Services and Practice Management division. He reports to Greg Gohr, managing principal for wealth management, who the firm promoted to be one of its roughly dozen partners in January as well.
Brinkley Financial Group
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial advisors: David Brinkley and Carrie Brinkley Jones

Total client assets: $115 million

Date of move: Oct. 24

New BD: Woodbury Financial Services (Advisor Group)

Prior BD: Cambridge Investment Research

Remark: The father-daughter practice affiliated with the Advisor Group IBD and its corporate RIA with GCG Wealth Management serving as its OSJ. The enterprise now spans 31 advisors managing $1.3 billion in client assets, more than double its amount two years ago.
Kestra’s Arden Trust Company
Location: Wilmington, Delaware

Acquisition: Trust business with $400 million in assets

Seller: Northwestern Mutual

Acquiring firm’s parent BD: Kestra Financial

Total trust assets: More than $7 billion in eight offices

Date of acquisition: Feb. 29

Remark: The Kestra subsidiary trust company purchased a book with three officers and more than 300 client relationships to expand into its eighth office in Milwaukee. Arden works with advisors to provide trust services to more than 5,000 accounts, including for life insurance and special needs.