Ex-IBD president joins hybrid RIA as assets top $10B

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Large financial advisor enterprises keep gaining more scale and power as acquisitions roil the independent broker-dealer space.

In the latest example, a hybrid RIA with more than $10 billion in client assets tapped the former president of its shuttered longtime IBD to lead the firm’s turnkey asset management program.

Brian Holmes spent 34 years affiliated with John Hancock’s Signator Investors before Advisor Group’s Royal Alliance Associates acquired the firm last year. His Los Angeles-based Signature Estate & Investment Advisors has boosted its AUM by two-thirds in the past two and ½ years.

Holmes launched the hybrid RIA in 1999 — before most large independent broker-dealers even allowed representatives to do so. He started the TAMP available across Signator Investors in 2012 and introduced a white-labeled automated asset allocation tool for clients in 2015.

After about two years as head of Signator, Christopher Maryanopolis joined Holmes’s firm on July 8 as COO of the TAMP. Signature Investment Advisors has amassed nearly $3 billion in AUM, and he and Holmes aim to offer it across the Advisor Group network.

They hope to gain Advisor Group’s approval over the next six months to a year, though the TAMP’s Form ADV filing notes it has reached a referral agreement with Royal Alliance. Maryanopolis is also leading operational links between the IBD and the group’s 18 advisors.

“It's been pretty seamless because we were pretty independent from the get-go,” Holmes says. “It's just different operating systems. The technology seems to be a little more robust. We're still getting our feet wet, and Chris will be helping us with it.”

AUM on the firm’s three advisory platforms represents nearly as much as the $12.6 billion that Royal Alliance listed in early July as managed by its IARs through the corporate RIA. Signator’s main managed account program has also moved into Royal Alliance’s RIA.

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The pending sale of a majority stake in Advisor Group’s four IBDs with 6,500 advisors to Reverence Capital Partners is expected to close in the third quarter. The reported price tag above $2 billion and some $270 billion in client assets makes it the largest M&A deal of 2019.

In early November, Royal Alliance noted it retained 95% of Signator’s production — including 1,860 out of 1,933 advisors — after closure of the earlier acquisition. In terms of AUM, SEIA is the largest team to affiliate with Royal Alliance from the onetime No. 16 IBD.

Advisor Group retained a service center in St. Petersburg, Florida that Signator had folded in as part of its 2016 acquisition of certain assets of Transamerica Financial Advisors, Maryanopolis says. SEIA’s contacts operate from Advisor Group offices in Phoenix and Atlanta, though.

The 18-advisor, seven-office team has also joined Royal Alliance’s Royal Court program for its largest affiliates, he notes. The TAMP led by Maryanopolis includes support managers offering white glove services for advisors to steer client assets toward their goals, he says.

“They can just concentrate on relationships, they don’t have to sit there and be portfolio managers,” Maryanopolis says.

Royal Alliance’s referral agreement with the TAMP calls for it to pay the IBD a solicitor fee, part of which Royal Alliance pays to its agent. SEIA or its TAMP “may also sponsor due diligence meetings, training sessions and other meetings” for the reps offering it, the ADV states.

Representatives for Advisor Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the TAMP’s availability across the IBD network. The TAMP is “growing, and the opportunities are growing with it,” Holmes says.

Another former Signator office of supervisory jurisdiction — the Nashville, Tennessee-based Innovative Financial Group — tapped Brian Heapps after his five-year tenure as president of the shuttered Hancock IBD. He serves as CEO of the OSJ, which uses the corporate RIA.

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RIAs Independent BDs M&A Business development TAMP OSJs Signator Investors Royal Alliance Associates Advisor Group