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LPL's wirehouse grabs lead class of 10 advisors with $685M

LPL Financial has been busy.

In a six-week span, the No. 1 independent broker-dealer hired three new executives and 10 financial advisors joined the firm with $685 million in client assets.

LPL nominated an independent director and tapped executives for advisor support and government relations. The firm also recruited advisors from Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Advisors and U.S. Bank in the baker’s dozen of moves it has announced since mid-March.

LPL headcount Q4 2018

In one of them, stomach cancer survivor and advocate Steve Melen bolted Morgan Stanley for LPL after 11 years with the wirehouse. The California Bay Area-based advisor manages about $100 million in client assets from an office he has set up in his home.

For the post on the board of directors, LPL nominated security and compliance technology firm Rapid7 CEO Corey Thomas before a May 8 shareholder vote. New York Life’s former lead cybersecurity and privacy lobbyist Nana Nyanin also came aboard LPL’s government relations team in April.

LPL set a record in 2018 by recruiting advisors managing $27.3 billion in client assets. It added a net 899 advisors to grow to 16,109 advisors last year. Keeping with recent trends, seven of the 10 incoming advisors affiliated with the corporate RIA rather than with hybrids.

Steve Melen, LPL

Melen had only a 12% chance of survival after he was diagnosed in 2008, just seven months after he had come to Morgan Stanley. He worked at Charles Schwab for 13 years. LPL’s offerings impressed him when he looked into going indie after his cancer fight, he says.

In an understatement, Melen notes he was “recovering from some really intense stuff in my life” and didn’t previously have time to ponder independence. He says he “got lucky with the markets” in 2008 because he had built up a predominantly fixed-income book of business.

He continued serving his clients and corresponding with them when the chemotherapy and radiation treatments didn’t sap his strength. The clients stayed the course, including one who Melen says received a call claiming their advisor had fallen into a coma.

“My clients, they were all just committed and loyal. And I was responsive, even being in the midst of being really sick,” Melen says. “I didn't want to let them down. I was trying to survive for myself, my family and my clients.”

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Melen now works with the Gastric Cancer Foundation and the Debbie’s Dream Foundation to mentor newly-diagnosed patients and advocate for research and awareness funding. LPL Head of Business Development Rich Steinmeier praises Melen’s work.

“We are proud to be able to support Steve and his business, and share his commitment to continuous improvement and willingness to give back,” Steinmeier said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment on Melen’s departure.

In the rest of the steady drumbeat of recruiting announcements in the past six weeks, LPL added another advisor from Morgan Stanley and two advisors each from Voya Financial Advisors, O.N. Equity Sales, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank:

  • Advisors Dave Olivieri and Wes Rowlands of Laguna Hills, California-based O&R Partners joined LPL on March 29. The team manages $155 million in advisory, brokerage and retirement plan assets.
  • Advisors Dan Goland and Julie Welch of the Seacoast Financial Network brought roughly $120 million in client assets in affiliating with LPL on Dec. 21. The North Hampton, New Hampshire-based team includes two support staff members.
  • LPL affiliate Gateway Financial Partners added Kevin Carroll and Sam Shehu on Feb. 15. The Glastonbury, Connecticut-based advisors manage about $110 million in client assets.
  • Triad Financial Strategies — an LPL hybrid RIA based in Issaquah, Washington — picked up advisors Lincoln Kopetski and Joe Cilley on Jan. 7. The duo have $100 million in brokerage, advisory and retirement-plan assets.
  • Advisor Pete Babilla aligned with LPL and the hybrid RIA practice HighPoint Planning Partners on Jan. 18. He manages about $100 million in client assets.

The executives will fill key respective roles under Andy Kalbaugh, LPL’s president of national sales and consulting, and Peggy Ho, the firm’s head of government relations. If approved by shareholders, Thomas would serve on LPL’s nine-member board under chair James Putnam.

  • Thomas, 43, leads a firm with more than 7,000 clients worldwide. He has also previously worked at Microsoft and Deloitte Consulting. “This is an exciting time at LPL as the company is focused on growth and putting the advisor at the center of all they do,” he said in a statement.
  • Nyanin is an assistant vice president for government relations. In a statement, she said LPL is “well respected in Washington and known for being a thought leader on issues related to the financial advice market and small business ownership." She aims to leverage “the firm’s leadership position to effect change for the industry, independent advisors and investors.
  • Angela Xavier is now executive vice president for Independent Advisor Services Business Consulting after 23 years in hospitality with InterContinental Hotels Group. “I look forward to building relationships with advisors and creating differentiated experiences that deliver value and further enhance the firm’s delivery of strategic growth support,” she said in a statement.
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