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Carson strikes 18th equity deal as network's assets top $10B

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Ron Carson’s hybrid RIA and expanding network unveiled two new affiliated practices and its 18th equity swap firm in a two-week span as its client assets approached $10.5 billion.

Tom Ruggie’s three-office practice managing $566 million in client assets, sold a 25% stake to Carson Wealth prior to adopting the brand. Central Florida-based Ruggie Wealth Management is the third team with at least $500 million in assets to swap equity in 2019 with Carson Wealth.

Bender Financial Services and Morgan Wealth, which manage about $200 million in combined client assets, affiliated with Cetera Advisor Networks and Carson’s RIA. Lead advisors Benjamin Bender and Joe Morgan left Raymond James and LPL Financial.

Carson’s hybrid RIA and office of supervisory jurisdiction has more than 100 affiliated practices it refers to as Carson Partners. Ruggie’s team had joined a year earlier as a transitional step ahead of doing business under the Carson name, he says.

“I have a firm belief that in the next three, five, or 10 years that Carson Wealth will be a household name in the way things should be done,” Ruggie says. Smaller firms also avoid the struggle of competing with larger players under Carson's structure, he adds.

Ruggie had attended events held by Carson’s coaching arm and followed the influential advisor based in Omaha, Nebraska. Bender — whose practice is based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado — had read several books by Carson.

The blueprints for advisory firms in Carson’s books enabled Bender to hone skills like being candid, he says. The firm’s transparency, technology and money management tools swayed him to join Carson’s network.

“I felt the ideas from the Carson clan were very innovative and client focused,” says Bender, praising the client platform as using “very clear, plain language.”

Bender had spent five years with Raymond James Financial Services after breaking into the industry in 2003 with Edward Jones, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. He formally aligned with Cetera’s largest independent broker-dealer on April 29.

Representatives for Raymond James didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Morgan’s team also strove to enhance its tech under Carson. They decided to align with the firm in order to maximize client services with integrations like using Salesforce as the practice’s customer relationship management software, Morgan says.

“I would see a lot of my peers trying to keep up with industry trends. I’d rather be one of the people in the lead,” he says. “Carson is at the forefront.”

While his first name differs from the famous J.P. Morgan, he shares the middle name of Pierpont with the legendary banking titan. The Central California-based practice had been affiliated with LPL for 17 years before its April 15 move, BrokerCheck shows.

LPL declined to comment.

Carson’s office of supervisory jurisdiction has expanded to 108 affiliated offices with $10.4 billion in client assets. The firm aims to be a 100-year company that provides an “ecosystem of solutions” to advisors, says COO Teri Shepherd.

“These advisors have proven themselves in providing best-in-class service to clients and they want to be part of a bigger movement,” Shepherd said in an email. “They want to join a cause that extends beyond their own personal and professional goals."

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