Now that the fiduciary rule is real, Cetera Financial Group expects to see more deals like the one it struck this week with a firm that dropped its own broker-dealer to join Cetera as an office of supervisory jurisdiction.

Cetera headquarters
Cetera headquarters

HBW Partners and all of its 55 advisers nationwide are making the move, CEO Barney Hellenbrand said in a statement. The Simi Valley, California-based firm has $820 million in assets under management.

"Our transition to Cetera Advisor Networks enables us to keep the most-beloved features of our firm, while eliminating the surging regulatory burdens associated with being a broker-dealer," Hellenbrand said.

The Labor Department's rule was a factor, Hellenbrand confirmed in an email.

In choosing Cetera Advisor Networks, HBW selected the largest of the seven broker-dealers in the Cetera Network. It is, by itself, No. 9 on the FP50 ranking of the top IBDs in the nation. The firm has always specialized exclusively in supporting independent teams of advisers, said Tom Taylor, Cetera Advisor Networks CEO.

"With this regulatory uncertainty now behind us, smaller and mid-sized IBDs are fully aware that the new regulatory normal is happening whether they like or not," he added. "Many of these 'IBD-to-OSJ' conversion plans are being jump-started or, if such plans have been discussed previously, they are now being significantly accelerated."

Taylor said that his firm is known for attracting firms that want to retain their own brand and management.

Indeed, HBW plans to keep the "true servant culture" it built over the course of 26 years, Hellenbrand said.

For its part, Cetera wants the deal to be the first of many.

"We are aggressively in contact with the community of third-party practice management and transition consultants and recruiters," Taylor said, "many of whom are also seeing a surge of interest from smaller and mid-sized IBDs."

Ann Marsh

Ann Marsh

Ann Marsh is a senior editor and the West Coast Bureau Chief of Financial Planning. Follow her on Twitter at @Ann_Marsh.