$1.7B hybrid practice bolts LPL with eye on industry ‘disruption’
An RIA with 38 advisors managing more than $1.7 billion in client assets left LPL Financial for Private Client Services to ensure they're "partnered with a firm that embraces the hybrid model,” the firm’s founder says.
Bobby White’s RFG Advisory cites a change in LPL’s hybrid policies as a factor in its decision to switch broker-dealers on June 4 as part of a series of moves since 2016. The Birmingham, Alabama-area firm consists of five offices and an independent RIA with $915 million in assets under management.
LPL’s hybrid channel has lost at least seven firms with outside RIAs since announcing it would require incoming advisors to have at least $50 million in advisory assets before joining a hybrid practice. CEO Dan Arnold has pledged continued investments in both the hybrid channel and corporate RIA, though.
White’s firm tapped hedge fund and investment banking veteran Shannon Spotswood to be its president in February 2016, and RFG also hired Rick Wedell from Bain Capital Credit six months later to serve as chief investment officer. Additionally, the firm has built a new technology platform for its advisors, White says.
“The need to have a huge broker-dealer was just not as attractive going forward,” says White. “The last 18 months have been full of change. The industry as a whole is being disrupted and we want to be part of the disruption as opposed to being disrupted.”
As RIAs and regulations reshape the industry, the concern is real, a new Cerulli report says.
Executives from Pershing and Fidelity say smaller firms can find a home in the hybrid space.
At least six RIAs have left since the No. 1 IBD announced a change in policies last November.
LPL has cut fees for its corporate RIA while unveiling a new mutual-fund platform for hybrid advisors set to launch later this year without any ticket charges or transaction fees. The No. 1 IBD’s hybrid channel spans about 420 practices with 5,200 advisors out of a headcount of more than 16,000.
“We remain committed to both our corporate RIA and hybrid platform, and will continue offering competitive, industry leading programs for both,” LPL spokesman Jeff Mochal said in an emailed statement. “We mutually agreed with RFG that our future plans were not strategically aligned.”
White opened RFG in 2003, and he started the RIA when he joined LPL in 2011. His 19 years of industry experience also include stints with Securities America and Lincoln Financial Advisors, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.
In addition to its corporate office in Vestavia Hills, RFG operates from locations in nearby Birmingham, as well as Naples, Florida, Shreveport, Louisiana and St. Louis. Spotswood, Wedell and advisor Brian Alan Ryals also control minority ownership stakes in the RIA, according to its SEC Form ADV brochure.
The RIA oversees $915 million in assets under management, while Private Client Services and its clearing and custody partner, Pershing, will handle the brokerage side of RFG’s $817 million in brokerage and third-party client assets. The Louisville, Kentucky-based IBD has more than 90 affiliated practices.
“We strive to provide concierge-level service to the financial advisors who partner with us,” PCS CEO Ernest Sampson said in a statement. “As an independent broker-dealer, working exclusively with hybrid firms like RFG, we understand that advisor needs are vast and varied.”
The BD switch, combined with the new management hires, new technology and a multi-custodian structure at the RIA, amount to major changes at White’s firm, he says. Now, he adds, RFG can start recruiting additional advisors and consider acquisitions.
“We feel that our potential is unlimited at this time,” he says. “We have put the pieces in place to be a high-growth RIA."