In the most recent move by a large firm to help planners solve pressing succession issues, Cetera Advisor Networks is now offering its regional directors, s well as other small- to mid-sized broker dealers, the opportunity to sell their businesses to Cetera.

In November, Schwab announced a pilot lending program that provides financing for junior partners seeking equity in a firm. That program is targeted to planners with more than $400 million in assets under management and at least three existing senior principals.

At Cetera, firms that elect to sell themselves to the independent broker dealer will operate similarly to existing regions within the company’s distinctive regional model. Advisors in the acquired companies will remain independent contractors just as they are today, with similar reporting and supervisory structures, according to the firm. 

“Succession planning is one of the most important aspects of running a practice,” Doug King, president of Cetera Advisor Networks, said in a statement. “When regional leaders who have built successful businesses look to retire, a succession strategy that ensures a smooth transition for advisors and their clients while also maximizing the value is challenging. This option provides a much needed solution that doesn’t exist in today’s marketplace.” 

The first to participant in the new program is a Cetera Regional Director, Michael McCormick, and his firm Benchmark Financial Network in Washington, Penn.

“I’ve been working with the team at Cetera Advisor Networks as I plan my transition into retirement,” McCormick said in the same statement. “This is a great opportunity for my business – my legacy – to continue its momentum with a leadership team that understands and has been part of the culture and values I’ve built.” 

McCormick will continue to co-direct the firm for five years in conjunction with new regional co-director Timothy Miller, who joins Cetera Advisor Networks from Wells Fargo. At the bank, Miller was responsible for growing the investment business within the bank’s private banking offices in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions, according to Cetera. Benchmark’s two-person compliance team also will join the company and continue to support the region under Miller, the company said.

Benchmark has 75 advisors and six offices of supervisory jurisdiction.

Cetera described its new offering as a natural extension of a unique business model, which combines small-firm support through regional teams with the resources of a large, national home office. This allows for advisors to have the “best of both worlds,” the firm maintains, throughout the life-cycles of their careers, whether in transitioning to independence, building and optimizing a practice, or preparing to realize the equity of the organization they’ve built.

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