LPL and Raymond James lead in recruiting as M&A deals and new appointments show coronavirus impact

LPL Financial and Raymond James Financial Services have galloped ahead of their recruiting rivals, but the coronavirus is casting uncertainty on moves across the entire industry.

Independent broker-dealers have unveiled around 50 recruiting moves so far in 2020, according to Financial Planning’s analysis of press releases issued by the firms. None of the moves occurred in April, though, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. In another sign of the pandemic’s economic impact, Blucora’s pending RIA acquisition has a new, much lower price.

The firms’ disclosed data have some limitations. The announcements often lag formal changes of affiliation by months, and publicly traded firms are much more likely than privately held ones to share news of financial advisors joining the fold. Other entries in the 40 news items below from the IBD sector came in the form of executive appointments and platform launches.

Still, the recruiting announcements span more than 100 advisors managing $9 billion in client assets who opted for new BD affiliations in the first quarter. Their moves display a sampling of the flow of assets that make up the lifeblood of the independent wealth management channel.

LPL has said it added at least 59 newly recruited registered representatives with about $4 billion in client assets, while Raymond James has announced more than 20 recruits to its IBD channel with $2.8 billion. Other active firms on the advisor recruiting trail have included Kestra Financial (7 advisors with $650 million) and Waddell & Reed (10 reps with $575 million).

On the other hand, some normally strong rivals have been absent. Ameriprise has only publicly disclosed one new recruit to its franchise channel in 2020 while competitors have attracted eight ex-Ameriprise reps with $1 billion in client assets. The nine Advisor Group IBDs have seen more than 25 advisors go to LPL without reporting any new recruits to the network this year.

Each of the figures noted below come from company announcements. The dates of the new BD affiliations refer to formal public records maintained by FINRA rather than the timing of the announcement.

To see notable recruiting moves and other news in the IBD channel in the past six weeks, scroll down the slideshow below. For a sense of how the sector previously looked, see “Fierce IBD competition: 27 moves, M&A deals — and even the Rolling Stones.”

Blyth & Associates Financial Services

Location: Chicago

Financial advisors: Bill Blyth, Carla Nitz, Christopher Fudacz

Total client assets: $350 million

Date of move: March 27

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Securities America (Advisor Group)

Remark: Blyth and his twin brother Robert, an estate attorney, launched the practice in 1994. Two other advisors, a pair of additional relatives and three other operations support staff have since joined the family business. After 25 years with Securities America, Blyth dropped the Advisor Group IBD and affiliated with the No. 1 IBD and its corporate RIA.

HK Financial Services

Acquiring firm: Avantax Wealth Management parent Blucora

Total client assets: $4.1 billion

First-quarter inflows: $214 million

Date of amended acquisition agreement: April 9

Remark: The parent of the tax-focused IBD formerly known as HD Vest agreed in January to purchase the outsourced wealth management RIA for $160 million. However, the parties agreed months later to an amended agreement “in response to current economic conditions,” according to Blucora. The new arrangement reduces the price tag to $100 million, pushes the expected date of close back to between April 9 and Oct. 1 and adds further financial contingencies. After the close, Avantax’s advisors will get more employer-plan services from the home office and the firm will also have a new outsourced service for CPA firms that branch into wealth management. The new purchase price constitutes a ratio of 6.3x to HK’s expected EBITDA in 2020, Blucora says.

Goetzman Nau Financial Partners

Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Financial advisors: Neil Goetzman, Jeffrey A. Nau and Gerald Lyon

Total client assets: $900 million

Date of move: Feb. 28

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Merrill Lynch

Remark: The wirehouse breakaways spent more than a combined six decades — and their entire careers — with Merrill before choosing the Raymond James IBD for their indie move. In terms of client assets, it was the largest move in the sector announced during the first quarter of the year. The wealth management news website AdvisorHub first reported the move.

Chris Graw

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Total client assets: $150 million

Date of move: Feb. 27

New BD/RIA: Cetera Advisor Networks/Carson Wealth

Prior BD: Northwestern Mutual

Remark: The move by Graw to fellow advisor Russ Nieland’s Carson Wealth office creates an 11-member team managing about $650 million in client assets. The 16-year veteran advisor says he chose Carson as his RIA-OSJ and Cetera Advisor Networks as his IBD after considering seven companies over an intensive three-year search.

Benchmark Community Bank’s Benchmark Financial Solutions

Location: 16 branches in southern Virginia and North Carolina

Financial advisors: Chris Bailey

Total client assets: $190 million

Date of move: March 2

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Infinex Investments

Remark: The bank’s investment program chose the Raymond James IBD’s institutional channel after two years of due diligence on potential broker-dealer partners, Bailey said in a statement.

United Planners Financial Services

Executive names: Billy Oliverio, Chad Shindel and Sheila Cuffari-Agasi

Position: General partners

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Financial advisors: 450

Total client assets: $16.5 billion

Date of appointments: March 18

Remark: The midsized IBD promoted three executives to general partner as part of a transition process that began last year. Former CEO Dave Shindel died in a hunting accident last October, and another general partner retired. The firm tapped longtime executive Mike Baker to replace Shindel. In addition to the new titles, Oliverio is chief marketing officer, Chad Shindel is CFO and Cuffari-Agasi is an executive vice president. In 2019, United generated nearly $130 million in gross revenue, according to the firm.

Legacy Planning Group

Location: McKinney, Texas

Financial advisors: Patrick Cloutier and Matthew Gournay

Total client assets: $130 million

Date of move: Jan. 13

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Woodbury Financial Services (Advisor Group)

Remark: The former University of North Texas fraternity brothers have worked together since 1990, and Cloutier’s daughter, Madeleine Underwood, serves as a registered assistant in their office. Prior to affiliating with LPL and its corporate RIA, the two advisors had tenures with Woodbury, Lincoln Financial Network and Jefferson Pilot Securities.

John Hungerford, John Robins, Andy Beshuk, Doug Munson and Michele De George

Total client assets: $326.7 million

Total combined annual production: $2.1 million

Date of moves: Feb. 11, Feb. 14, Feb. 19, March 6, March 19

New BD: Waddell & Reed Financial

Prior BD: BMO Harris Financial Advisors, LPL Financial, Hilltop Securities, Ameriprise

Remark: Waddell & Reed is ramping up its recruiting of experienced advisors from rivals after shifting away from its traditional training focus in recent years. Beshuk also affiliated with the IBD in a reverse breakaway move from the full RIA channel.

Lori Hardwick

Positions: member, strategic advisory board/member, board of directors

Location: San Francisco/Los Angeles

Firms: Genstar Capital/Cetera Financial Group

Financial advisors: 8,000

Date of move: March 9

Remark: The former COO of Pershing, co-founder of Envestnet and current chairman of Riskalyze joined private equity firm Genstar’s strategic advisory board and the board of the IBD network in its portfolio, Cetera. Genstar’s board consists of around 30 people “who are typically current and former C-level leaders with deep domain expertise in Genstar's target sectors” and “help shape the firm's investment strategy in a particular vertical and to source, diligence and advise companies post‐acquisition,” according to the firm.

SilverRock Wealth Partners

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial advisors: Derek Copeland, Chris Carpenter and Brenton Bersin

Total client assets: $150 million

Date of move: March 5

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Spire Securities

Remark: Copeland, the practice’s CEO, had been affiliated with Spire for three years after more than a dozen with wirehouse firms Morgan Stanley and UBS. The practice chose 211-representative Independent Advisor Alliance as its office of supervisory jurisdiction and hybrid RIA. With a team including Carpenter, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher, and Bersin, a former wide receiver with the Carolina Panthers, the practice caters to NFL clients and other professional athletes.

Messick Peacock & Associates

Location: Dallas

Financial advisors: Chris Messick, David Peacock, Alex Taylor, and Matt Sibley

Total client assets: $640 million

Date of move: March 3

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Northwestern Mutual

Remark: Messick and Peacock had each spent more than 20 years affiliated with Northwestern before switching to the Raymond James IBD. The team includes five support staff.

Ameritas RetireExpress

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Registered reps: More than 1,300

Date of launch: March 10

BD: Ameritas Investment

Remark: The midsized IBD rolled out personalized strategies for employer-sponsored retirement plans in a portfolio tool with investments by Stadion Money Management that Ameritas calls “RetireExpress.” The firm also plans to start an outsourced plan administration service later this year, in addition to its new website for sponsors.

Raymond James Advisor Emeritus

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Financial advisors: 8,060

Total client assets: $855 billion

Date of launch: March 11

BDs: Raymond James & Associates, Alex. Brown, Raymond James Financial Services

Remark: The new succession plan resource from Raymond James connects advisors with successors who work with them for up to two years before they retire and five years afterwards. The firm has rolled it out for employee advisors and as a template — with home-office consulting support — for indie advisors.

Horizons Financial Group

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Financial advisors: Jim Nix and Michael Mashburn

Total client assets: $375 million

Date of move: March 24

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Triad Advisors (Advisor Group)

Remark: Nix, Horizon CIO Mashburn and COO Jim Carter first met each other while they were getting their starts in the financial services industry in 1986 with the investment division of the Central Bank of the South. The employer-plan focused practice had spent more than a dozen years affiliated with Triad before switching to the No. 1 IBD and its corporate RIA.

LPL Government Relations

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial advisors: 16,464

Total client assets: $764 billion

Date of advisor study: March 4

BD: LPL Financial

Remark: Almost nine out of 10 LPL advisors who work with small business retirement plan clients say a bipartisan proposal for an employer tax credit would make employers more likely automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans, according to a survey by the No. 1 IBD. After Congress created new incentives for small businesses to start 401(k) plans under the Secure Act in December, Democrats like Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts and Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio have proposed legislation aimed at a new tax credit for matching contributions. At least 89% of the surveyed LPL advisors said the proposal would make automatic enrollment more likely among small businesses, including 59% who said it would make it substantially more likely.

Judy Ricketts

Position: Executive vice president for operations

Firm: LPL Financial

Financial advisors: 16,464

Total client assets: $764 billion

Date of hiring: April 13

Prior role: managing director for retail investor services, TD Ameritrade

Remark: Ricketts, who is married to the son of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ brother, spent two decades with the family business. Now that she’s reporting in her new role to LPL Chief Customer Care Officer Dayton Semerjian, she’s leading the No. 1 IBD’s efforts to provide the best possible services to advisors and institutions in the most efficient manner.

Stratos Wealth Holdings

Location: Beachwood, Ohio

Financial advisors: 300 advisors

Total client assets: $14.5 billion

Investor: Emigrant Partners, a division of New York Private Bank & Trust

Date of announcement: April 1

BD: LPL Financial

Remark: The major LPL hybrid RIA and OSJ picked up a capital infusion by selling a minority interest for an undisclosed amount. Emigrant and an affiliate, Fiduciary Network, have 15 current partnership deals with firms managing some $50 billion in combined client assets. Stratos will use the capital “to further invest in its business and expand its capabilities for current affiliates,” according to the firm. Raymond James Asset & Wealth Management Investment Banking represented Stratos in the transaction. Wealth management news outlet Citywire first reported the transaction.

20/20 Wealth Management Group

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Financial advisors: Lon Simpson, Eugene Oks, Timothy Aja, April Wallace and Jeff Nance

Total client assets: $120 million

Date of move: Oct. 2

New BD: Securities America

Prior BD: Cetera Advisor Networks

Remark: The practice led by founding partners Simpson and Oks had switched BDs twice in the past five years due to consolidation within the Cetera network. They opted instead for Securities America, its multi-custodial corporate RIA, Arbor Point Advisors, and Bay View Capital Advisory Group as its OSJ.

Killingsworth & Vessey Financial Partners

Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

Financial advisors: Mark Killingsworth and Stephen Vessey

Total client assets: $200 million

Date of move: Jan. 6

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors

Remark: The wirehouse breakaway team left Wells Fargo after founder Killingsworth spent almost three decades with A.G. Edwards & Sons, successor firm Wachovia Securities and the bank. Vessey came aboard in 2017 after a 22-year stint in public education as a teacher, principal, human resources director and superintendent.

Rodriquez Wealth Management

Location: Newport Beach, California

Financial advisors: Jesse Rodriquez

Total client assets: $326 million

Date of move: Jan. 10

New BD: Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network

Prior BD: UBS

Remark: Rodriquez affiliated with the wirehouse’s IBD channel after eight years with UBS, five with Merrill Lynch and nine with Citigroup.

Netvest Financial

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Financial advisors: John Cartolano and three other advisors

Total client assets: $350 million

Date of move: March 2

New BD: Cetera Advisor Networks

Prior BD: LPL Financial

Remark: Cartolano team of a dozen advisors and employees dropped LPL for the Summit Brokerage Services region of Cetera Advisor Networks and the firms’ corporate RIA. He has also retained affiliation with Netvest’s hybrid RIA. Prior to the move, Cartolano had spent 25 years aligned with LPL. The team posted a video on the firm’s website explaining their BD affiliation decision and set up information sessions for clients about the transition. AdvisorHub first reported the move.

Synergy Wealth Alliance

Location: Orange City, Florida

Financial advisors: Shawn Walton, Debbie Hawksworth and Richard Coloni

Total client assets: $100 million

Date of move: Jan. 31 and Feb. 18

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BDs: Cambridge Investment Research, Edward Jones and Cetera Advisors

Remark: The advisors launched a new office in the Synergy OSJ, which affiliated with LPL from rival Cetera in December. The trio had developed a friendly rivalry after meeting at their country club outside Orlando years ago. Synergy has more than 15 advisors and $650 million in client assets across the enterprise.

United Planners Financial Services and Wealthbox

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona; New York and Providence, Rhode Island

Financial advisors: 450

Date of strategic partnership: March 2

BD: United Planners

Remark: Starburst Labs' popular CRM tool and the midsized IBD have launched a strategic partnership to promote the use of Wealthbox among the advisors of United Planners. The firms held a webinar for advisors and their teams in early March about the integration of Wealthbox's CRM to the United Planners platforms.

Welch Hornsby

Location: Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial advisors: 14 financial advisors and research professionals

AUM: $1.75 billion

Acquiring firm: Captrust

Date of announcement: March 12

Seller rep: Raymond James Asset & Wealth Management Investment Banking

Remark: The RIA acquisition marked No. 40 for Captrust since 2006. The 30-year-old practice will adopt the Captrust name in operating a book of business spanning $5.5 billion in AUA.

Jackson National Life Insurance and LifeYield

Strategic partnership: Giant insurer integrates tax-efficient portfolio software

Jackson National’s 2019 annuity sales: $19.6 billion (LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute)

Launch date: March 31

Remark: The No. 1 annuity issuer in terms of sales last year is migrating the popular asset optimization software into its existing digital tools. Financial advisors will be able to use LifeYield’s visualizations and calculations, such as the Taxficient Score, to quantify the impact of various annuity products on a client’s portfolio.

Orion Communities

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Models in marketplace from: More than 40 asset managers

AUA on Orion Advisor Tech: More than $1 trillion

Total accounts: 3.8 million accounts

Date of launch: March 31

Remark: The Orion Advisor Solutions firm rolled out a marketplace for outsourced portfolio management that enables trade-by-trade discretion and other customization. The asset managers already in the marketplace include strategists large and small across fixed income, equities and alternative products.

American Portfolios Financial Services Advisor Dashboard

Location: Holbrook, New York

Registered reps: 842

Date of launch: March 31

BD: American Portfolios

Remark: The midsized IBD has bulked up its main advisor desktop by integrating its proprietary software with those of outside vendors such as Pershing, CommWeb and Xtiva Financial Systems. American Portfolios made the enhancements after gathering input from a technology subcommittee on its advisor council.

Aneri Jambusaria

Position: Executive vice president for strategy

Company: LPL Financial

Financial advisors: 16,464

Total client assets: $764 billion

Date of appointment: April 6

Prior position: Head of planning office, Fidelity Investments

Remark: LPL tapped Jambusaria to manage its enterprise-level business strategies while reporting to Head of Business Development Rich Steinmeier. In addition to nine years with Fidelity, she was a senior consultant with Deloitte’s financial services practice.

Foundation Wealth Management

Location: Bakersfield, California

Financial advisors: Rick Yanez, Lance Mackall, Cathie Joughin, and John Rodgers

Total client assets: $189 million

Date of move: Nov. 29

New BD: Ameriprise

Prior BD: Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network

Remark: Yanez and Mackall’s practice left Wells Fargo’s IBD for the Ameriprise franchise channel after seven years with the wirehouse. The ensemble team also includes office manager Monica Lopez and client service manager Crystal Gilman.

Gerry Herbison

Position: Executive business coach

Company: Carson Coaching

Coaching members: 1,200 financial advisors and wealth management professionals

Graduates: 5,000

Date of appointment: April 7

Prior position: Adjunct professor of leadership and practice management, The American College of Financial Services

Remark: Herbison, a CFP and holder of a doctorate in business administration, has studied top-performing advisors for decades, according to Ron Carson’s coaching firm. His main areas of instruction are change management and leadership development.

GCG Wealth Management

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Total client assets: $1.3 billion

Name of advisor channel: Advisorpreneur

Date of formal launch: April 8

BD: Woodbury Financial Services (Advisor Group)

Remark: The OSJ-like enterprise led by Joel Burris launched a website detailing what it refers to as its “Advisorpreneur” program, mixing independence with home-office services that resemble a wirehouse. The resources include CFPs and CFAs for research and planning support, discounted infrastructure and technology and acquisition and succession consulting.

John McLaughlin

Location: Olean, New York

Total client assets: $83 million

Date of move: Jan. 17

New BD: Ameriprise

Prior BD: Stifel

Remark: McLaughlin also had tenures with UBS and Merrill before joining Stifel in 2011, and he has a 34-year career in financial services. Paraplanner Lisa Zlockie made the move to the Ameriprise franchise channel alongside him.

LPL’s SAM and SWM platforms

New NTF fund families: First Trust and Global X

BD: LPL Financial

ETFs without transaction fees on platforms: More than 600

Financial advisors: 16,464

Total client assets: $764 billion

Date of NTF expansion: April 13

Remark: The No. 1 IBD added ETFs from First Trust and Global X to those from State Street Global Advisors, Invesco, and WisdomTree already available on a no-transaction-fee basis. “On behalf of LPL, I hope this pricing enhancement offers another way to help you manage the complexity and challenges of our current environment,” LPL Executive Vice President for Investor and Investment Solutions Rob Pettman said in a message to advisors.

Juran Wealth Management

Location: Monterey, California

Financial advisors: Deborah Juran and Melissa Paddock

Total client assets: $150 million

Date of move: Jan. 30

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: RBC

Remark: Juran affiliated with the Raymond James IBD after 14 years with RBC and 27 with Morgan Stanley.

Crux Wealth Advisors

Location: Long Beach, California

Financial advisors: David Colley and Jim Mills-Winkler

Total client assets: $235 million

Date of move: Jan. 17

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Waddell & Reed

Remark: Colley and Mills-Winkler moved into Crux, an existing Raymond James practice, as its third and fourth incoming advisors in the past seven months. Prior to their more than 15 years each with Waddell & Reed, the recruits had careers in other fields. Mills-Winkler was the director of product development at a toy company, and Colley was a management consultant in the healthcare industry.

Caliber Wealth Management

Location: Overland Park, Kansas

Financial advisors: Mark Albright, Michael Ward, Andrew Dibble; Cole Dimond, Bob Olvera, Reisha Fregoe and Michael Richards

Total client assets: $350 million

Date of move: Feb. 20

New BD: Raymond James Financial Services

Prior BD: Ameriprise

Remark: Partners Albright, Ward, Dibble and Dimond began their respective financial services careers with Ameriprise and its forerunner, American Express Financial Advisors. The team includes three other advisors and a half dozen support staffers.

Peter DeSantis

Location: El Paso, Texas

Total client assets: $100 million

Date of move: March 27

New BD: LPL Financial

Prior BD: Cetera Advisor Networks

Remark: DeSantis and his wife Ana have operated the practice together for the past 35 years, after their prior careers in a chemistry lab where the couple met. DeSantis spent 13 years with Girard Securities and two more with Cetera’s largest IBD, which absorbed Girard in a consolidation that turned it into one of the firm’s OSJ-like regions. He switched BDs as part of a succession plan calling for DeSantis to ultimately transfer the book to another LPL practice.

Russell Giammarino Wealth Management

Location: Port Jefferson, New York

Financial advisors: Sean Russell and Philip Giammarino

Total client assets: $325 million

Date of move: March 13

New BD: Kestra Financial

Prior BD: UBS

Remark: The wirehouse breakaways merged their practice into an existing Kestra enterprise named Coastline Wealth Management. In addition to the time with UBS, Russell and Giammarino had prior tenures with Wells Fargo and Prudential.

Charles Smith

Position: Head of digital solutions for wealth management

Company: Refinitiv

Location: New York and London

Financial institutions: 40,000 in 190 countries

Date of appointment: March 31

Prior role: Managing director, Ernst & Young Wealth and Asset Management

Remark: Smith came back to his onetime firm after eight years with EY and tenures with Fiserv’s CheckFree and Finastra forerunner Misys. Smith now leads the digital and mobile distribution of the data and infrastructure firm’s global wealth management business. Amid the economic turmoil of the Coronavirus pandemic, Refinitiv says the volume of trades on its brokerage transactions and operations service jumped up by an average of 129% on a daily basis in March above the same period last year.

Avantax Wealth Management

Parent firm: Blucora

Location: Irving, Texas

Financial advisors: 3,984

Total client assets: $70.6 billion

Date of corporate reorganization: April 20

Remark: The tax-focused IBD’s parent firm appointed Executive Vice President of Corporate Development Todd Mackay — the onetime interim head of Avantax — its president of wealth management. He replaced Enrique Vasquez in the role less than a year after Vasquez joined the firm. Vasquez now serves as the firm’s managing director of practice acquisition, where he will lead Avantax’s advisor succession and RIA conversions.