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Cetera ends months-long CEO search, tapping seasoned insider

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Ending a search that has taken up most of the year, Cetera Financial Group has appointed its president to be CEO of the 8,000-financial advisor network.

The CEO search committee picked Adam Antoniades out of “many of the industry’s top talent” who had been attracted to the role, according to Tony Salewski, a managing director of Cetera’s majority owner, Genstar Capital. Cetera is comprised of a network of five independent broker-dealers.

Antoniades helped launch the Cetera IBD firm First Allied Securities in 1994, and he led it through at least four changes in ownership over his long tenure. More recently, he has helped stabilize Cetera after the surprise exit of CEO Robert Moore due to health reasons in March.

The committee — which consulted with the executive headhunter firm Heidrick & Struggles — chose Antoniades after “a thorough vetting of internal and external candidates that was extensive in its diligence and reach,” according to Salewski, who is also on Cetera’s board.

Cetera had remained silent about the vacant position throughout the year, without even letting a word of a potential candidate leak out of the Los Angeles-based network. Antoniades himself declined to comment multiple times while pledging to invest in growth under Genstar.

“I am honored by the opportunity to lead Cetera as CEO,” Antoniades said in a statement. “I have deep respect for and belief in the work our financial advisors do every day to serve their clients and the work our employees do to support them.”

Interim CEO Ben Brigeman — who is also on Genstar’s strategic advisory board — will remain chairman of Cetera. Antoniades had served as president since 2014, a tenure marked by the bankruptcy protection of onetime parent RCS Capital and Genstar’s $1.7-billion acquisition deal last year.

Cetera’s IBDs make up five of the 50 largest firms in the sector, including Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Advisors, Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists and First Allied. A sixth firm, Summit Brokerage Services, merged into Advisor Networks this year.

Together, the network generated $1.88 billion in revenue in 2018, an 8% gain over the previous year, according to Financial Planning’s annual IBD Elite study. In 2019, Cetera has added more than 1,000 new advisors and $19 billion in client assets through two acquisitions and recruiting.

Genstar purchased its majority stake in Cetera from creditors of the firm’s parent a little more than two years after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. Fellow private equity firm Lovell Minnick Partners, Wells Fargo and Advanced Equities Financial also once owned First Allied.

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