Advisor Jack Abriola spent more than 15 "great" years with Royal Alliance before deciding this year that it was time to sell to aggregator United Capital, in part because of a possible game-changing Labor Department rule.
The prospect of the Labor Department passing a uniform fiduciary rule is "a huge part of my decision," Abriola says, "because if I put a (broker-dealer) between me and my client, I know the cost would be more. United Capital doesn't do that. I am essentially going straight to the source, so it's way different than a B-D in my way of thinking."
United Capital announced the acquisition of Abriola's Pittsburgh-based Select Financial Group, with its $270 million in client assets under management, at the same time it announced the acquisition of PSA Insurance & Financial Services in Hunt Valley, Md. PSA manages $1.1 billion in its retirement plan practice and another $189 million on the wealth management side, according to a United Capital statement.
While the fiduciary movement wasn't a primary factor in PSA's decision to join United Capital, the firm's managing director Trevor "Chip" Lewis says he sees it "as a phenomenal opportunity.
"The large advisory firms that have an institutionalized process will be the beneficiaries of the new [Labor Department] rules once [they are] in place," Lewis says. "The individual practitioner will not be able to serve the qualified plan appropriately."
For Abriola, another key factor in selling to United Capital was his daughter, who works for the firm and is turning 30 later this month.
"I wanted her to be situated in a place where she could be in business for many years to come," he says.
Abriola, who is now a United Capital partner, says it was important to him that a third of United Capital is owned by other advisors who built their own firms.
"I'm glad to have skin in the game and I'm glad the other advisors have skin in the game as well," Abriola says.
As to whether the prospect of a uniform fiduciary rule is proving accretive to United Capital's bottom line, Matt Brinker, United Capital's senior vice president of partner development and acquisitions says, "Not yet, but it certainly will down the road."
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