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$180M team picks Ladenburg IBD seeking service and independence

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Financial advisor Dave Kopyc opted to leave his broker-dealer to gain more independence and new resources under Ladenburg Thalmann’s Securities Service Network and Fidelity, he says.

“Instead of having the shrimp cocktail, we'll have the lobster,” says Kopyc of the new setup for his clients at Saratoga Springs, New York-based Retirement Planning Group, which has three advisors managing $180 million in client assets.

The practice left Ameritas Investment — the No. 36 independent broker-dealer by annual revenue per Financial Planning’s FP50 — for Securities Service, the No. 37 firm. Ladenburg capabilities like its fixed income desk, equity research, asset management and trust services make the difference, Kopyc says.

Securities America and Triad Advisors, which are the 4,300-advisor network’s two largest IBDs, say they hit record revenue in 2018 in part due to successful recruiting of new practices. Securities Service CEO Wade Wilkinson declines to provide specific figures, but he says the firm’s revenue increased last year.

”Direct access to senior management” for all of the Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm’s 330 advisors, combined with the “large company resources” of Ladenburg have proven attractive, Wilkinson says. Efficient client services and uncertainty amid record consolidation drive advisors to new firms, he says.

“Advisors want to choose firms where they know there's stability and they know what the future looks like,” Wilkinson says.

Firms’ head counts show how they’re responding to a challenging time in which experts predict the number of advisors to fall in coming years.
September 17

A spokeswoman for Ameritas declined to comment on the exit by Kopyc’s team.

Kopyc spent the past decade of his 32-year financial services career with Ameritas before joining Securities Service on Jan. 2, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. The “extremely difficult” process of selecting a new IBD took three or four years, he says.

The upstate practice includes three support staff members and a newly opened second office in nearby Glens Falls. Retirement Planning may open a satellite location in Florida this fall, says Kopyc, who also hosts a weekly radio program. The practice has retained Fidelity as its custodian under its new IBD.

Keeping the Fidelity relationship while getting access to products through Ladenburg like annuities made Securities Service the best fit, according to Kopyc. While only a small percentage of the practice’s assets come from brokerage products, he says advisors who rule out annuities do clients a disservice.

“There should be no biases. You should be able to bring to the table all of the financial services that are out in the arena, without having any kind of biases internally within your organization,” Kopyc says. “You are now showing your bias, as opposed to showing open architecture in a truly independent platform.”

Securities Service did have about 10 fewer advisors at the end of 2018 from a year ago due to the consolidation of a few practices, according to Wilkinson. Ladenburg hasn’t reported its fourth-quarter earnings, but the IBD network’s pretax net income jumped by 120% in the third quarter to $18.5 million.

Wilkinson's team began bulking up Securities Service’s tax offerings for advisors from the home office and its recruiting of enrolled agents or CPAs last year. He says the firm will continue the efforts in 2019, with a “tax savvy university” training at its national conference and peer mentoring among advisors.

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