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Ameriprise sees recruiting opportunity amid recession fears

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The return of volatility in equity markets amid fears of a recession is prompting more large teams to mull broker-dealer moves, according to Ameriprise’s top recruiting executive.

“A lot of people have been complacent because we've been in such a bull market for so long,” says Manish Dave, the senior vice president for business development at the Minneapolis-based firm. “More advisors are taking action on taking control of their own destiny versus having their own destinies pointed out for them.”

Ameriprise’s Advice & Wealth Management segment — which spans 9,951 representatives in its franchise and employee channels — recruited 72 experienced financial advisors in the second quarter. The firm also added another one from Wells Fargo Advisors last month.

Advisors who are affiliated with BDs maintain either a “vendor relationship” or a “strategic partnership” with the firms, Dave says. Ameriprise aims for strategic partnerships by providing technology, centralized supervision, business planning and other operational tools.

“It's kind of like going to a gym: you need really good equipment but it also helps to have a really good personal trainer,” he says. “You could put the best equipment in the gym, but if you don’t have the people and resources to help you leverage the equipment, you're not going to optimize your workout.”

He cites the rising productivity of Ameriprise’s force of advisors, 78% of who are affiliated with the second-largest IBD in the sector. Adjusted annual operating net revenue per advisor across the full force expanded by 6% year-over-year to $638,000 in the second quarter.

While Dave declines to state any metrics beyond the firm’s earnings, he notes experienced recruits had 19% higher productivity than the tenured advisors affiliating in the year-ago period. The overall productivity of the advisor force is also far higher than most IBDs.

A team of 19 regional recruiting directors support the expansion efforts of Ameriprise’s larger teams, such as the seven-office, 14-advisor Cardinal Pointe Financial Group based in Louisville, Kentucky. Advisor Terry Smallwood joined its Lexington office in July.

Smallwood spent 16 years with Wells Fargo prior to the July 12 move, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. He now reports to Franchise Field Vice President Francisco Armada and brings $81 million in client assets from a base of business owners, executives and their families.

“It fits perfectly for my clients in that I’d like to retire over the coming years,” Smallwood said in a statement. “By the time I retire, they will have had time to become familiar with everyone on the team, and I’m confident it will be a smooth transition to the rest of the team helping execute my clients’ wealth management and retirement planning.”

Representatives for Wells Fargo declined to comment on Smallwood’s departure.

Ameriprise’s wealth unit generated $376 million in pretax adjusted operating earnings on $1.65 billion in net revenue in the second quarter — a 7% increase year-over-year on the top and bottom lines. Its headcount is up by 45 advisors, even as the figure dropped by 28 sequentially.

The momentum has continued into the third quarter, according to Dave, who notes tech investments amounting to “tens, if not hundreds of millions” of dollars on tools like goals-based planning and a new customer relationship management platform by Salesforce.

“It feels like we're in the later innings of this now 10-year bull market,” Dave says. “More than ever, advisors need to assess where they are.”

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