Benjamin F. Edwards lands first team for new RIA channel

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Benjamin F. Edwards unveiled its first team for its new RIA channel, more than a year after unveiling plans to expand into the independent advisory business.

For years, the St. Louis-based wealth management firm has been recruiting talent for its employee brokerage unit, poaching advisors primarily from its crosstown rival, Wells Fargo Advisors. By launching the new RIA unit, dubbed Edwards Wealth Management, the company can now compete for the hundreds of breakaway advisors who open their own shops each year.

There’s a long history with Wells Fargo. The company’s CEO Tad Edwards, who launched the firm in 2008, hails from the family that founded A.G. Edwards, which was absorbed into Wells Fargo. Today, Edwards’ eponymous firm claims more than $25 billion in assets under management and 72 branch offices in 27 states.

“We expect to continue to grow our existing full-service broker-dealer just as we have been for the past 10 years,” Managing Director Chris Keller said in a statement. “Edwards Wealth Management is a strategic enhancement to the firm and we expect growth in the new company from existing independent RIA firms who wish to affiliate with us for back-office and middle-office support as well as advisors who break away from their employer.”

The firm’s first RIA additions are advisors Blake Dunlop and his son Connor, who transitioned from Benjamin F. Edwards’ employee unit. They are based in St. Louis and manage $230 million, according to the company. Both men are former professional hockey players and joined Benjamin Edwards from Wells Fargo in 2010. Blake Dunlop played for the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings.

“After my father and I finished our hockey careers, the Edwards family gave us an opportunity to follow another passion of ours — helping people achieve their financial dreams,” Connor Dunlop said in a statement.

Benjamin F. Edwards’ announcement also mirrors similar developments at Wells Fargo, which opened its own independent RIA channel earlier this year. The first advisors to affiliate with Wells Fargo as RIAs made internal moves.

But there are differences between the two rivals. Wells Fargo only wants advisors who are 100% fee-based for its RIA channel. Independent advisors affiliating with Benjamin Edwards can do commission business through the firm’s broker-dealer.

The firm is targeting RIAs with at least $1 million in annual revenue. Advisors affiliating with Benjamin F. Edwards' RIA will utilize Pershing Advisory Solutions for advisory business, according to the firm.

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Going independent RIAs Regional BDs Tad Edwards Benjamin Edwards Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Advisors