What's next for embattled RCS Capital?
After releasing third-quarter earnings that disappointed Wall Street but revealed bright spots within the retail advice business, top executives at the Nicholas Schorsch-led financial services company elaborated on its business prospects during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Here are the three most most interesting things we heard:
1. RCS may be broken up, and one or more of the advisory firms may be spun off.
"There's not one thing [RCS] is not willing to look at," the company's CEO Michael Weil said in response to an analyst's question about breaking RCS apart. The firm has faced a steep decline in its stock price since it became embroiled in a legal feud with fellow Schorch company American Realty Capital.
Throughout the conference call, Weil stressed that RCS top executives strongly believed the company's market value was "out of line" following the controversy, which dates to a $23 million accounting scandal at ARC.
RCS was "not limited" in the actions it might take "in the best interests of shareholders," Weil said -- and, he added, no options were off the table. Top executives would look at '"all strategic options" and work with an outside firm to provide a "long-term strategic analysis" to the RCS board of directors.
"We're going to find the best way to drive the value of this company," Weil said.
2. Sales of suspended Schorsch products may resume quickly.
Weil said that an undisclosed number of broker-dealers who suspended sales of products distributed by RCS will reinstate sales by the end of the year.
The suspensions have resulted in a short-term decline in the equity that Realty Capital Securities, RCS' wholesale distribution arm, has been able to raise, acknowledged Bill Dwyer, the former LPL Financial executive who is chief executive of the unit.
Some firms have already lifted the suspensions, he added -- but Weil did not name names, and when asked which companies have resumed sales of the alternative products, an RCS spokesman said the company would not comment. (One of the most prominent suspensions was by LPL, which says it has not reinstated the RCS products.)
Nonetheless, Dwyer was upbeat about the long-term prospects of the REIT sales. Alternative products currently make up only about 2% to 3% of the "average retail portfolio," and that percentage "will increase over time," Dwyer maintained.
Dwyer's unit, which is the leading seller of nontraded REITs, is well positioned, he argued, to take advantage of what he described as "long-term strong demand" for the products.
Despite the suspended sales by some major firms, which even include RCS-owned Cetera Financial Group, Dwyer said all 29 RCS-distributed alternative products were still being sold, and accounting for more than $12 million of equity being raised daily.
Weil said that RCS was not dependent on any one firm resuming sales, because even the largest IBD selling RCS products accounts for less than 7.5% of sales.
3. RCS's new IBD advisors are staying put.
Only 2% of RCS' over 9,000 advisors left the independent broker-dealer network in the company's third quarter, while nearly 200 advisors were recruited -- and the company's pipeline of potential recruits is in fact "more robust now than in the last few months," said Larry Roth, the head of the IBD network, which is the country's second-largest by advisor count.
The controversy surrounding RCS and American Realty has had "no effect" on recruiting, Roth claimed: "The advisors we're speaking with are experienced people who have [gone through] lots of market cycles."
Retail margins expanded to 7.4% from 6.7% in the third quarter, a percentage RCS expects to keep increasing, Roth said.
RCS also expects to grow its retail fee-based business, Roth said. Less than 30% of the company's assets under administration are currently fee-based, he noted, a percentage he predicted would expand as RCS firms rolled out and promoted a new premium fee-based service to clients.
- LPL Boots Products From Schorsch Empire
- Retail Advice a Bright Spot as RCS Earnings Disappoint
- RCS Shareholders Sought for Possible Lawsuits
- Schorsch Plays Defense at Schwab Amid Turmoil in His Empire
- RCS Seeks to 'Clarify' Distance From 2nd Schorsch Firm
- Family Feud Inside Schorsch Empire