Cetera Financial is bulking up its wealth management capabilities by bringing on 2,000 new reps and advisors in its planned acquisition of the broker-dealer subsidiary of insurer Genworth Financial.

The unit, Genworth Financial Investment Services, will become Cetera’s fourth broker-dealer and investment advisory firm. It is composed of tax and accounting professionals who complement their tax services by providing financial and investment advice to their clients.

“These advisors are very interesting to us. They are in the perfect position to serve as financial quarterbacks for their clients,” said Valerie Brown, Cetera’s chief executive officer. “This transaction offers us an opportunity to expand our family of broker-dealers, and cements our commitment to support the multiple faces of independence.”

The proposed acquisition is scheduled to close in approximately 90 days, pending regulatory approvals.

Cetera’s total AUM would hit $88 billion with the addition of $13 billion from GFIS. Of that $88 billion, fee-based assets would account for $17 billion in AUM of the newly formed company.

Recruiting new advisor groups and acquiring companies such as GFIS are top priorities for Cetera at the moment, Brown says. With the caveat, she adds, that the number one priority is still servicing the company’s existing brokers and RIAs.

Just last month Cetera signed a deal to recruit nearly 300 Denver, Colo.-based brokers from Pacific West Securities Group after that company shuttered its doors. Pacific West blamed shrinking margins in the broker-dealer space for its decision to cease operations.

Cetera paid $78.5 million for GFIS, not including an earnout provision over a one-year period.

“This is a win-win-win. It gives us the opportunity to be uniquely us within a much larger organization,” said Enrique Vasquez, president and chief executive officer of GFIS.

Vasquez says Cetera will help GFIS take advantage of what he believes is a huge opportunity.

“There are about 200,000 accountants and CPAs that are in private practice, outside the big Four. These are folks who are out there serving clients providing them with tax and accounting services,” Vasquez said.

GFIS has conducted a study that estimates that 50,000 of these tax and accounting professionals are interested in providing wealth management solutions to their clients, according to Vasquez.

“So I believe there is a huge opportunity to not only serve the (advisors) we have today but to grow this business with our turnkey solutions,” he says.

The quality of those solutions is a big part of the reason that Cetera made the acquisition, Brown says.

“They have some best-in-class products and training that that we think we can leverage around the Cetera platform,” she said.

GFIS would join Cetera's three other independent broker-dealers. Financial Network Investment Corporation has a regional network that provides local support to nearly 1,800 advisors through every stage of their business. Multi-Financial Securities Corporation provides flexible, customized solutions to more than 1,000 highly entrepreneurial advisors. PrimeVest Financial Services is a self-clearing broker-dealer that focuses exclusively on serving more than 600 financial institutions.

Cetera itself was born in early 2010 when ING Groep NV sold ING Advisors to the private equity firm, Lightyear Capital, which then renamed it.

Ann Marsh writes for Financial Planning.






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