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Fidelity taps Canter as head of RIA business

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Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions didn't have to search very far to find a successor to Bob Oros as head of its RIA business.

David Canter, a nearly eight year veteran of the firm with 17 years of experience in the advisory industry, will take over from Oros, who led Fidelity's RIA segment for five years. Oros left the firm in January to become CEO of HD Vest.

Canter, who will oversee sales and relationship management, had been executive vice president, practice management and consulting for Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions. He will be replaced by Matthew Chisholm, who previously reported to Canter as senior vice president of business analytics and consulting.

Organic growth is the biggest issue facing RIAs, Canter says.

"RIAs need to focus on growth, scale and efficiency and having a well-diversified group of clients," he says. "They have to try and do more for clients and prospects without adding new costs to their model."

What should RIAs be most concerned about?

Top line revenue growth, expenses, a healthy margin and scale and efficiency, according to Canter. And RIAs can't afford to neglect basics of their business such as "their target markets, the firm's capabilities, organizational structure and infrastructure," he adds.

How vulnerable are RIAs to a market downturn?

"Most advisers are sensitive to the fact that markets can provide a healthy tail wind, or a headwind," Canter says. "The two ways to avoid the [negative] effects of market activity are to continue to grow with new assets and increase assets from existing clients. And scale and efficiency will mitigate the impact of [market volatility]."

"RIAs have to try and do more for clients and prospects without adding new costs to their model," says David Canter.


Asked about his priorities for the new position, Canter says he first wants to "take a step back" and get "fair and candid feedback from clients and associates."

Canter did say that part of his mission is to compete with custodian rivals Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade to bring new assets and clients on to Fidelity's platform and to "deepen our share of wallet with existing clients." Schwab currently has around 7,000 RIAs on its custodial platform, followed by TD Ameritrade with approximately 5,000 advisers and Fidelity with around 2,500.

Canter says there are no plans to have the kind of large annual trade show that draws thousands of advisers to the annual conferences of Schwab and TD Ameritrade. Fidelity will continue to present a series of regional forums for advisers as well a national forum for top industry executives, he says.

Canter joined Fidelity in 2009 as chief operating officer for Fidelity’s custody business. A year later he was named head of practice management and consulting.

During an eight-year tenure with Charles Schwab beginning in 2000, Canter, an attorney, was a corporate counsel, vice president of Schwab Institutional Trading & Operations and head counsel to the Schwab Institutional business.

He has also worked for the Quellos Group, an investment adviser focused on the fund-of-funds business, and the New York Stock Exchange Division of Enforcement.

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