Industry giant LPL Financial has picked up a Southern California firm with social media savvy and $175 million in assets under management.

Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, a fast-growing hybrid RIA firm in Santa Monica, Calif., has signed on to LPL's broker-dealer and hybrid RIA platforms, after passing over other large contenders for its business.

“We began with a very thorough process of looking at the top 30 (broker-dealer) firms,” says the firm’s cofounder, Ross Gerber, “sort of like the show 'The Bachelor' -- and started crossing out each one.”

The firm passed on broker-dealers that focused on larger advisory firms with higher assets under management requirements, as well as those affiliated with banks and insurance companies, Gerber says, until the choice came down to Cambridge Investment Research or LPL. Both are firms on Financial Planning's FP 50 list of the country’s largest independent broker-dealers.

One deciding factor that tilted the firm to LPL was its dedicated service teams for its various affiliated advisory firms.

“Developing relationships with actual people, rather than going into a huge call center, made a huge difference,” according to Gerber, who says he prefers to have his team of 20 advisors develop relationships with LPL team members. “Most firms have a call center and you never know who you are going to be able to talk to.”

Social Media Savvy

For his part Bill Morrissey, LPL’s vice president of business development, says he’s excited to bring Gerber Kawasaki on board in part because of the firm’s innovative use of social media. The firm, founded in 2010, has more than 4,000 followers on Facebook and another 1,500 on Twitter. Its clients are composed of both baby boomer retirees and a growing number of younger Generation X and Generation Y clients, who Gerber refers to as the firm’s “wealth-building” clients.

“They have a really dynamic and interesting social media strategy that helps them not only communicate with their clients but market to them,” Morrissey says. “They do a great job helping mentor advisors and work with a younger clientele and they’ve developed a really robust suite of technology to help their advisors deliver comprehensive wealth management services.”

Another key advantage with LPL, according to Gerber, is that it offers the ability to conduct both transaction-based business for younger clients with fewer assets to manage as well as fee-based business for wealthier clients, Gerber says. “LPL was the only company that provided the clearing operation and the custody of assets, as well as being a B-D,” Gerber says. “We think that creates a lot of savings for our clients.”

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