506 advisors, $31.1 billion in client assets: LPL, Raymond James and Wells Fargo FiNet lead indie recruiting

The economic stress from the coronavirus is making its impact felt on M&A transactions and company earnings. Recruiting is another matter, though.

With more than 500 advisors and $30 billion in client assets in motion under the year’s announced recruiting moves in the independent channel this year, a brief pause in activity in March has given way to hundreds of BD affiliation changes. The below roundup of 32 recruiting moves, M&A deals and other news in the indie channel displays the competitive fight.

M&A experts predict transactions will also pick up in coming months after reporting a slowdown of breakaway deals and other RIA acquisitions in the second quarter. As for earnings, lower interest revenue among publicly traded wealth managers has pressured them lower, sharply in some cases. Their outlook isn’t likely to improve until the coronavirus is under control.

LPL Financial and Raymond James — the two largest recruiters in the indie space, according to Financial Planning’s tracking of company announcements — report second-quarter earnings this week. LPL has unveiled teams with some 220 advisors and $12 billion in client assets this year. Raymond James has announced at least $4 billion in recruited client assets to its IBD.

In third place, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network has attracted practices with at least $2.6 billion. Still, competitors poached teams from each of the three biggest IBD recruiters in moves discussed below. Another rival from the brokerage side of the full RIA platforms, Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, has started working in some capacity with more than 80 advisors in 2020.

To catch up on the latest news and notes in the indie space, scroll down our slideshow. To see where things stood last month, click here.

Koehler Wealth Management
Location: Pueblo, Colorado

Financial advisors: Corinne Koehler

Total client assets: $120 million

Date of move: May 18

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network

Remark: The 38-year veteran advisor affiliated with the No. 1 IBD and its corporate RIA. The youngest of nine children raised on a dairy farm, Koehler is also president of the Pueblo Conservancy District and a founding board member of Historic Pueblo.
DeVoe Q2 RIA Deal Book
Firm name: DeVoe & Company

Location: San Francisco

Date of report: July 22

Quarterly deal volume: 29

Average transaction size: $942 million in AUM

Activity for firms with less than $1B in AUM: Decreased 35% year-over-year

Activity for firms with more than $1B in AUM: Increased 47%

Remark: RIA transactions have entered a “lull” stage ahead of a “surge” phase, according to the business strategy and M&A consulting firm. The volume of deals slipped by 17% year-over-year in the second quarter to their lowest level in nearly two years amid the U.S. coronavirus outbreak and corresponding economic stress. Still, the 64 RIA M&A deals so far this year matches the number made at this point in 2019.
Bernicke Wealth Management
Location: Altoona, Wisconsin

Financial advisor: Ty Bernicke

Total client assets: $530 million

Date of move: June 18

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Triad Advisors (Advisor Group)

Remark: The four-advisor ensemble team includes 17 other paraplanners, tech specialists and client services staffers among its employees. The team affiliated with LPL and a hybrid RIA-OSJ called Great Valley Advisor Group. Its founder, Bernicke, had spent seven years with Triad following tenures with the Raymond James IBD, SII Investments and FSC Securities.
Signature Wealth Group
Location: High Point, North Carolina

Financial advisors: Matt Thiel

Total client assets: $115 million

Date of move: June 5

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors

Remark: The retired Air Force captain and 18-year financial services veteran went independent from the wirehouse, opening a new branch of the Raymond James-affiliated Signature enterprise. Signature spans a dozen branches with $1.3 billion in client assets.
J.D. Power client engagement survey
Sample: 521 investors

Timing: May 27 to June 5

Remark: Nearly one-third (31%) of the sampled wealth management clients told the market research and consulting firm that they hadn’t heard from their advisors since the U.S. outbreak of the coronavirus began in March. Receiving one or more contacts from advisors made the investors twice as likely (32% to 16%) to say they rebalanced their portfolio in light of the economic turmoil. On the whole, 79% of the investors of all types said firms’ coronavirus response efforts have made no impact on their perception of the firm.
Stephen Langlois
Position: President

Company: Kestra Financial

Location: Austin, Texas

Financial advisors: 2,500

Total client assets: $88.1 billion

Date of appointment: July 20

Prior firms: eMoney Advisor, Fidelity Investments and LPL Financial

Remark: Langlois reports to CEO James Poer in the position overseeing strategy and operations across Kestra and its four subsidiaries. Poer had previously served as president and CEO, so the new hire reflects the company’s expanded breadth across its two IBDs, a hybrid RIA for wirehouse breakaways, an RIA M&A arm and a trust company, according to Kestra.
ClearRock Capital
Location: Sun Valley, Idaho, and San Francisco

Financial advisors: Mark Eshman and James Everitt

Total client assets: $660 million

Date of acquisition agreement: July 1

RIA consolidator: Mercer Global Advisors

Remark: Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital-backed Mercer has agreed to acquire the RIA serving high-net-worth clients, endowments, small business owners and retirement plans. Out of more than 45 offices, ClearRock will be Mercer’s first in Idaho upon close of the transaction. The parties didn’t disclose financial terms.
HK Financial Services
Acquiring firm: Blucora

Upfront purchase price: $100 million

IBD: Avantax Wealth Management

Accounting firm partners: 75

Total client assets: $4.4 billion

Date of close: July 1

Prior BD: ProEquities

Remark: in its second notable wealth management acquisition in as many years, Avantax’s parent paid $60 million less than it originally agreed to pay in January due to the impact of the coronavirus. HK provides accounting practices the option of outsourcing wealth management services with Avantax rather than requiring CPAs or other partners to make the transition into wealth management themselves.
John Pierce
Position: Head of Business Development

Company: Cetera Financial Group

Location: Los Angeles

Financial advisors: 7,700

Total client assets: $264.7 billion

Date of appointment: June 30

Prior roles: Senior recruiting executive, Stifel and Ameriprise

Remark: The 30-year industry veteran reports to Head of Wealth Management and Recruiting Tim Stinson after taking over the role formerly held by Michael Murray. The website AdvisorHub first reported the move.
Tribe Financial Group
Location: Lake Oswego and Bend, Oregon

Financial advisors: Mary Dill and Kyle Sullivan

Total client assets: $100 million

Date of move: June 5

New BD: Triad Advisors (Advisor Group)

Prior BD: Principal Securities

Remark: After nearly seven years with Principal, the practice affiliated with the Advisor Group IBD and its multi-custodian corporate RIA, Triad Hybrid Solutions.
M.J. Smith and Associates
Location: Denver

Financial advisor: Mark J. Smith

Total client assets: $910 million

Date of acquisition agreement: July 8

RIA consolidator: Mercer Global Advisors

BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Remark: Upon close of the acquisition, the hybrid RIA will move to the Raymond James Independent Advisor Division. Mercer is adding Raymond James to its menu of custodians and considering launching its own BD or working with a third-party BD for the practice’s variable annuity products, according to Vice Chairman Dave Barton. “You want to have an open architecture platform that can accommodate and solve for the acquisition targets that we're onboarding,” Barton says. “We want to make sure that we solve those problems for them, partner with them, so that their clients receive quality advice and implementation without any service disruption or impairment whatsoever.”
Echelon Q2 RIA M&A report
Firm name: Echelon Partners

Location: Manhattan Beach, California

Date of report: July 2

Quarterly deal volume: 35

Average RIA size purchased: $1.5 billion in AUM

Remark: Deal volume tumbled by 49% as the coronavirus “shocked capital markets and the broader economy in March and April, caused a slowdown in the deal process for many,” according to the investment bank and consulting firm. On the other hand, the average size of RIAs changing hands reached a record level. Echelon also predicts that some deals that were earlier projected to happen in the second quarter will instead take place in the third quarter.
La Meer’s Grace
Firm name: La Meer

Location: Sunnyvale, California

Founded: 2010

Services: Risk management, trade monitoring, IT, AML and other regulatory tech

Date of Reg BI platform launch: July 23

Remark: The regtech firm’s cloud-based software aims to help BDs and RIAs comply with each of the four obligations of the SEC’s Regulation best interest in an integrated but customized way. Grace “provides clients the visibility to the organization’s standard of care and best interest behavior by including them in the decision making,” CEO Laxmi Ramanath said in a statement.
CenterPoint Wealth Advisors
Location: Crownsville, Maryland

Financial advisors: Glenn Drake and John Kinzer

Total client assets: $225 million

Date of move: June 25

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network

Remark: Drake and Kinzer have been business partners since they first merged their practices in 2003, when they were both with A.G. Edwards & Sons. They spent a decade affiliated with Wells Fargo’s IBD before switching to LPL.
Divisha Financial
Location: Bingham Farms, Michigan

Financial advisor: Divisha Kapur

Total client assets: $105 million

Date of move: May 1

New BD: Ameriprise

Prior BD: Hantz Financial Services

Remark: After more than two decades with smaller IBDs Hantz and Vestax Securities, Kapur returned to the Ameriprise franchise channel. She began her financial services career with the firm then known as American Express Financial Advisors in 1993.
Protective Life executive appointments
Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Parent firm: Dai-ichi Life Holdings

BD: ProEquities

Financial advisors: 600 advisors

Total client assets: $17 billion

Date of appointments: July 6

Senior vice president of distribution companies: Doyle Williams

President of ProEquities: Libet Anderson

Remark: Anderson reports to Williams, who now manages ProEquities, Protective Distributors and First Protective Insurance Group on behalf of the U.S. firm’s Japanese parent. She had been serving as interim president after Chris Flint left the firm earlier this year. Williams was previously the chief enterprise strategy consultant for Country Financial Group. Prior to joining ProEquities in 2016, Williams had tenures with Edward Jones and Sterne Agee Asset Management.
Black Stone Partners and Creative Capital Wealth Management Group
Location: Exton and Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Financial advisors: Brian Stephenson, David Matulewicz and Frederick Hubler

Total client assets: $240 million

Date of move: June 5 and June 30

New BD: Arkadios Capital

Prior BD: Triad Advisors

Remark: The IBD created out of a practice that dropped Triad Advisors in 2016 added two more practices to go above 60 advisors with $3.5 billion in client assets.
Waddell & Reed advisor recruits
Financial advisors: Michael Hogan, Andrew Stenzel, Yoko Lawing, Adrienne Alvarez, Kevin Albrecht, Lawrence King, Roger Buller, Christopher Anderson, Marc Hollendoner

Total client assets: $701 million

Combined annual production: $3.4 million

Date of moves: May 26-July 2

New BD: Waddell & Reed

Prior BDs: Edward Jones, Cetera Financial Institutions, U.S. Bank, four other firms

Remark: The midsize IBD recruited nine advisors in a span of roughly a month, according to the firm. For the year, at least 22 experienced advisors have affiliated with Waddell & Reed.
Crossroads Financial Services
Location: Austin, Texas

Financial advisors: Matt Meyers and Matthew Meyers

Total client assets: $300 million

Date of move: June 29

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Voya Financial Advisors

Remark: The father-son team is using LPL’s corporate RIA while aligning into The Financial Services Network as their OSJ enterprise. The practice serves teachers and university professors as its primary client specialty.
Advisor Group’s Unified Managed Accounts
Location: Phoenix

Financial advisors: 11,300

Total client assets: $450 billion

Date of software integration announcement: July 9

Remark: The IBD network has adapted its portfolio management software across its nine firms while adding an “investor journey” framework for client goal discussions and enabling flexibility for advisors to manage aspects of the portfolios themselves. The software includes access to more than 7,000 mutual funds and ETFs, 1,000 separately managed accounts and 200 model portfolios. Advisor Group has also made fees more standardized and lower in general across the platform, according to the company.
Cornerstone Financial Planning
Location: Fort Myers, Florida

Financial advisors: Ed Bell and Gretchen Collins

Total client assets: $160 million

Date of move: July 20

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Securities Service Network (Advisor Group)

Remark: Collins went indie from a wirehouse in joining her practice with that of her brother, Bell, in 2017. They’re second-generation advisors following in their father’s footsteps. Bell had been affiliated for 18 years with the Advisor Group IBD that is now folding into Securities America under the firms’ new parent.
SmartRIA Pro and LPL
Tech services market: Vendor Affinity

Financial advisors: 16,763

Total client assets: $670 billion

Date of launch: July 7

BD: LPL Financial

Remark: LPL made SmartRIA Pro available through its Vendor Affinity menu of software and other tech services made available at discounts to affiliated advisors. The automated compliance software enables advisors to “to solve compliance problems in less time with less stress,” according to SmartRIA CEO Mac Bartine.
Advisor360 executive appointments
Chief people officer: Meredith Crouse

Senior vice president for customer success and operations: Doug Wood

Vice president of engineering development: Gilad Sade

Solutions architect: John Considine

Location: Weston, Massachusetts

Date of appointments: July 13

Remark: The advisor desktop software firm launched by the partners of Commonwealth Financial Network hired four new executives as it seeks to work with other IBDs. The fintech opened last year, when MassMutual agreed to be the first rival firm to adopt the outsourced version of Commonwealth’s advisor software.
Pillar Financial
Location: Gibbsboro, New Jersey

Financial advisor: Michelle Nocito

Total client assets: $52 million

Date of move: May 19

BD: LPL Financial

Remark: The 14-year industry veteran left home-office supervision to align with Private Advisor Group, the largest OSJ enterprise out of more than 400 hybrid RIAs affiliated with LPL as their BD. Nocito’s practice serves a predominantly female client base. Private Advisor has more than 650 advisors and $21 billion in AUM.
49 Financial
Location: Austin, Texas

Financial advisors: CEO Travis Penfield and more than 60 other advisors

Total client assets: $250 million

Date of move: June 30

New BD: Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments

Prior BD: Equitable Advisors (formerly AXA Advisors)

Remark: Thrivent Advisor Network’s RIA platform added its first external team after migrating 130 advisors with $4 billion in client assets from the faith-driven financial firm’s legacy BD last year. The seven partners leading the incoming team aim to grow to more than 225 advisors by the end of this year.
Ridgeline Wealth Management
Location: St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Financial advisors: Jake Lavely, Robert Dimick and Tyler Cahoon

Total client assets: $210 million

Date of move: June 5

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network

Remark: Nine years after Lavely and Dimick launched the indie practice, they affiliated with LPL and its corporate RIA. Ridgeline has three other staff members, in addition to the trio of advisors.
Waddell & Reed executive appointments
Chief analytics officer: Rajesh Chalamalasetti

Vice president for acquisitions strategy and integration: Charles Holznecht

Location: Overland Park, Kansas

Financial advisors: 1,316 advisors and advisor associates

Total client assets: $51.8 billion

Date of appointments: June 29

Remark: Chalamalasetti has taken over the newly created role at the mutual fund company and IBD after his time with Principal, where he held the same title. Holznecht joined Waddell & Reed from the Stifel-owned investment bank George K. Baum, where he was principal for private equity and investment banking. They report to CFO Ben Clouse.
Staples Financial
Location: Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Financial advisors: Kris Staples and Trevor Johnson

Total client assets: $150 million

Date of move: June 15

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: First Allied Securities (Cetera Financial Group)

Remark: Johnson and Staples, a second-generation advisor, affiliated with LPL and its corporate RIA after seven years with the Cetera IBD and tenures with Woodbury Financial Services. The practice’s clients mainly come from the electrical industry, along with business owners, executives and other high-net-worth families.
Professional Planning & Wealth
Location: Greenville, South Carolina

Financial advisors: Chris Beard and Jesse Hansford

Total client assets: $130 million

Date of move: June 19

New BD: Triad Advisors (Advisor Group)

Prior BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Remark: Beard and Hansford launched their new practice after Beard’s 17 years affiliated with the Raymond James IBD and Hansford’s nine-year tenure. They also aligned with Triad Hybrid Solutions, an alternate corporate RIA with more custodial options than Triad’s main RIA.
ShoreHaven Wealth Partners
Location: Red Bank, New Jersey

Financial advisors: Lawrence Durso, Michael Durso and Michael Lombardi

Total client assets: $420 million

Date of move: July 17

Platform provider: Dynasty Financial Group

New BD: Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments

Prior BD: Morgan Stanley

Remark: The ex-wirehouse team went indie with Dynasty as their RIA platform. Lawrence Durso, the practice’s founder, had a nine-year tenure with Morgan Stanley as well as spending time with Wells Fargo Advisors and Merrill Lynch. The team includes his son, a CFA who serves as an investment specialist, and Director of Relationship Management Sheryl Iannuzzelli.
Advisor Group’s eQuipt Dashboard
Location: Phoenix

Financial advisors: 11,300

Total client assets: $450 billion

Date of launch: June 25

BDs in network: FSC Securities, Royal Alliance Associates, SagePoint Financial, Woodbury Financial Services, Securities America, Triad Advisors, Investacorp, KMS Financial Services and Securities Service Network

Remark: The IBD network has rolled out a series of software add-ons related to the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest to its eQuipt Dashboard, which now serves as the main advisor desktop and onboarding service across Advisor Group. The tech will help advisors comply with the new regulation that took effect June 30 by enabling them to make the required disclosures and process key account documents in tune with the new standards.
Oregon Community Credit Union
Location: Eugene, Oregon

Total client assets: $340 million

Date of move announcement: July 2

New BD: Securities America (Advisor Group)

Prior BD: LPL Financial

Remark: The credit union’s investment program consists of four registered representatives who serve clients out of its 10 branches across the state. The bank-channel practice opted to align with Priority Financial Group as its hybrid RIA and OSJ.
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