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$175M UBS team breaks away for ‘concierge level of service’

A team that managed $175 million at UBS quit to open an independent practice with Kestra Private Wealth Services, according to the company.

The team was driven in part by a desire to keep pace with changes in wealth management, according to team member Brendan McCarthy, who pointed to what he said were improvements in technology as well as greater accessibility to products and services for clients.

“I think without question that the independent space is where the industry is going,” McCarthy, director of wealth management, says. “Our challenge was to find the perfect partner for us.”

The team found that partner in Kestra, McCarthy says, adding the firm helped his team sort through the myriad decisions one makes when going independent, from selecting a brand to picking out furniture for their new office.

“It’s a concierge level of service,” he says.

To go independent, a $175 million team picked Kestra as a partner, citing the support it provides wirehouse breakaways. “It’s a concierge level of service,” Brendan McCarthy says. Pictured from left to right: Dennis Laughlin, McCarthy and Brian Laughlin.

The Melbourne, Florida-based advisor credits CEO Rob Bartenstein — who also previously worked at a wirehouse — and his team at Kestra, saying “they understood what we were used to and what we needed.”

McCarthy’s team is the latest in a series of wirehouse advisors in recent years to open independent practices, either as full-fledged RIAs or in partnership with an independent broker-dealer. Many breakaway brokers have pointed to desires to have more control over their practices and access to better technology.

A UBS spokesman was unavailable for immediate comment.

McCarthy’s five-person team goes by Three Bridges Planning, a reference to the group’s approach to financial planning as well as the number of bridges in Melbourne.

“From our offices, we can see 2 of the 3 bridges,” McCarthy says of the spans crossing the Indian River.

Other team members include Dennis Laughlin, director of portfolio management, and his son Brian, director of financial planning. McCarthy’s mother Judy is the team’s client relationship manager and Samantha Verzi serves as client service expert.

McCarthy recalls being a kid and seeing ticker tape in father’s office, who had also been a broker before retiring about 15 years ago, he says.

An advisor of 21 years, McCarthy had been with UBS since 2010, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. He previously worked at Stifel Financial.

“We had a great relationship with our employer, but we felt the business was shifting,” McCarthy says.

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