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Kestra's offerings draw $235M breakaway team

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A trio of financial advisors managing more than $235 million in client assets joined Kestra Financial, eyeing enhanced technology and practice management tools.

Frannie Gardner, Andrew Gardner and Patrick Wallace of Gardner Wallace Financial Solutions left Hornor, Townsend & Kent for Kestra, their new independent broker-dealer said this week. Gardner had spent 20 years with HTK in the Dallas-area practice.

Global private equity firm Warburg Pincus agreed last month to purchase a majority stake in Kestra and its subsidiaries Kestra Private Wealth Services and H. Beck from Stone Point Capital. The firms’ headcount has expanded to roughly 2,500 advisors, up from 2,300 last year.

Gardner “got to where I am because of HTK,” but the practice needed an IBD that isn’t affiliated with an insurance company or any other product manufacturer, she says. The team chose Kestra over three other contenders in their two-year search process.

“It was just time for us to go to that next step. Where our practice has evolved to, we needed someone who was on that cutting edge of technology,” she says. “Being in the independent space has opened so many doors, as far as possibilities for our clients and their investments.”

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Stephanie Kensy, a spokeswoman for the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company subsidiary HTK, issued a statement from HTK on the team’s departure.

“HTK remains committed to growing a network of advisors who offer comprehensive solutions for financial protection as well as wealth management,” Kensy said. “Advisors who partner with HTK are given a flexible technology and product platform to best serve their clients through all of life’s stages.”

Frannie Gardner had come to HTK in 1999 after tenures with AIG, Sun Investment Services and Cadaret, Grant, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. Andrew Gardner had been with HTK since 2008, and Wallace had aligned with the BD in 2007. They moved to Kestra on Feb.13.

The Addison, Texas-based firm also opened a new independent office for its team of nine employees brought over from its prior HTK location. The team has specialties in planning for widows and divorcees, along with financial literacy programs for companies and municipalities.

While Kestra declines to provide any specific metrics, Senior Vice President of Business Development Daniel Schwamb describes 2018 as the firm’s best ever for recruiting. Last year's incoming group brought average annual production near $500,000, he says.

“We are extremely pleased with the sophisticated advisors we have continued to attract,” Schwamb said in an email. “Our resources and advanced technology have paved the way for advisors to create custom client experiences. Our brand in the marketplace continues to thrive and has helped to cultivate a unique culture that advisors are excited to be part of.”

Kestra CEO James Poer has said the firm is more focused on quick service for advisors and tech updates than boosting advisor headcount. The firm rolled out a new client texting solution under CellTrust a few weeks before it announced its pending recapitalization with Warburg.

Gardner Wallace is switching its custodian from Pershing to Fidelity, which Frannie Gardner says has been made easier through e-signature and other client-friendly capabilities on its platform. Such tech tools are a big deal for the practice’s future, she says.

“It's a whole new world with Kestra,” she says. “If you have a vision of 30 years, you definitely would see the value of it. If your vision is five years, you would never see the value.”

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