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‘We will not compete with you,’ TD Ameritrade CEO tells RIAs

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SAN DIEGO — It takes a lot to get jaded RIAs cheering at a conference. But comments made by TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey at the firm’s annual conference had them whooping and clapping.

“I feel we’ve been ambiguous on this point in the past,” Hockey said, addressing planners’ concerns that the firm competes with them on its custodial platform. “The bottom line is we are not going to try to compete in the same space as RIAs.”

Hockey, who made his comments at a presentation at the National LINC conference for advisors, noted that he has received a clear message from the 7,000 RIAs on TD Ameritrade’s custodial platform: ‘Don’t compete with me.’

TD Ameritrade’s platform has $1.2 trillion in assets, according to the company. The firm’s institutional arm, TD Ameritrade Institutional, has about half that, according to Hockey.

Hockey went on to say he saw two categories of clients. The first is self-directed investors who are best served by the firm's discount brokerage. A second group, comprised of clients with more complex investing needs, should be referred to RIAs in TD Ameritrade Institutional network, he said.

Some advisors said they were appreciative Hockey had made the clarification. One said she didn’t believe the firm was competing with RIAs, but she was pleased Hockey had been specific.

“I knew that, but it was good to hear that they don’t plan on it,” said Annarose Isaac, a senior advisor at Wade Financial Advisory.

TD Ameritrade has now drawn clear lines, said another.

“You have a very clean break with TD where they are clearly articulating their marketplace,” said Bayard Closser, president of IPI Wealth Management. Closser added that competitors are setting up franchise offices across the country, and he said he believed that TD Ameritrade wanted to clarify they will not pursue that strategy.

Hockey’s comments that made his stance clear brought the loudest cheers.

“You deserve to work with a firm that works with you, not against you,” Hockey said. “Our strategy is clear. We will not compete with you.”

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