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Schwab hires small RIA advocate ahead of TD Ameritrade acquisition

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Charles Schwab is hiring a former TD Ameritrade executive well-regarded among small RIAs, potentially assuaging these advisors’ concerns that they’ll be overlooked once Schwab completes its pending acquisition of TD.

Tom Bradley, a 30-year TD Ameritrade veteran, will oversee Schwab’s support for RIAs with less than $100 million in assets, according to the company.

“If anyone can lead the charge for the small RIA, it is Tom Bradley,” Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategies, said in an email.

Michael Kitces, planner and co-founder of XY Planning Network, tweeted that Bradley’s addition “should be a big relief for small RIAs fearing Schwab will abandon them.”

Bradley is popular in the independent community and known as an advocate for RIAs. Some advisors had speculated Bradley could have been named the next TD Ameritrade CEO after Tim Hockey announced his surprise exit earlier this year.

Bradley spent 12 years as president of the TD Ameritrade Institutional business beginning in 2000 before he moved over to the company’s retail division. TD Ameritrade replaced Bradley with Peter DeSilva in 2017 as president of its retail business. Tom Nally has served as president of TD Ameritrade Institutional since 2012.

In his new role at Schwab, Bradley will report to Bernie Clark, head of Advisor Services, and will operate out of the company’s new headquarters in Westlake, Texas, according to Schwab. He will help integrate Schwab and TD Ameritrade’s advisor services businesses after the deal closes, which is still pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

As part of the announcement, Schwab issued statements that it has been “further tailoring its services” to meet the needs of firms with under $100 million in assets, including virtual business consulting, live-streaming events, the launch of its free portfolio management software and a 50% pricing reduction for electronically traded transaction-fee mutual funds.

Frank Bonanno, managing director of StoneCastle Cash Management, saw the hire as a strong play from the custodian. "Schwab is operating with ninja-like precision on this deal” he says. “The intellectual capital that Bradley will bring to the deal is a boon for the acquisition and bodes well for the smaller RIAs of which he is now in charge."

However, Welsh was skeptical of whether Schwab would prioritize Bradley’s “new gig as the small RIA guru,” because of this segment’s small revenue base. Welsh said that mustering support at the firm may be a challenge.

“But I would never underestimate him,” he says.

Still, the appointment of Bradley may help comfort smaller TD Ameritrade RIAs who have been questioning whether they would receive the same level of attention they have experienced at TD Ameritrade.

Bradley will officially join Schwab on January 13, according to the firm .

Former CFO Steve Boyle is currently serving as interim CEO of TD Ameritrade. A company spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the hire of its former executive.

—With additional reporting from Sean Allocca

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