Birmingham, Ala.-based advisor group Bridgeworth Financial, with nearly $1 billion in AUM, has left Lincoln Financial to join the country's largest independent B-D, LPL Financial, in a move that demonstrates the benefits of scale.

"They chose to partner with us because they really want to evolve," crowed LPL Executive Vice President of Business Development Bill Morrissey. "Bridgeworth is not only aligning with our B-D, but is using LPL as their primary custodian. Because we are serving in both these capacities, they are doing it all on one platform. That will create a lot of efficiency for them."

The outcome of a long negotiation process that took more than a year, the new business will help expand LPL's brand recognition in the Southeast, Morrissey believes.

In the ongoing story of rapid consolidation in the independent B-D space, this transition increased the size of Bridgeworth at the same time that the firm is joining LPL. Two additional planners from PinOak Advisors have joined Bridgeworth along with two other local advisors, Jeris Burns and David LeCompte, formerly of the Ameriprise-affiliated firm Burns & LeCompte. These additions have helped to increase the firm's size to close to $1 billion from about $700 million.

"When we formed Bridgeworth Financial in 2008, we devised a long range plan to allow us to be a better partner with our clients in pursuing their financial goals," Bridgeworth Financial Managing Principal DeLynn Zell said in a statement. "Today we are embarking on the next phase of that plan. This decision gives us even more flexibility, allowing us to do an even better job for our clients in the future."

The transition comprises 15 producing advisors with $5 million in annual revenues, according to Morrissey. "That's a large and complex transition," he says. "We have developed a reputation for moving large groups." LPL's size makes it better able to smooth such a complex move for an advisor network, he believes.

LPL has assigned a dedicated group to oversee the Bridgeworth Financial group. "We reorganized our business model so when [anyone from Bridgeworth] calls in, they will call in to a dedicated team of the same 12 to 15 service people any time they have a question or an issue," Morrissey says.

He adds that the rapid consolidation in the industry is being driven by a flight to quality in the independent B-D space because of the complexity of technology needs and compliance issues. "It's only through scale that you can afford to invest in technology and to personalize the relationship you want to enjoy," he adds.

Ann Marsh writes for Financial Planning.

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