A Signator Investors practice with $385 million in client assets bolted for Royal Alliance Associates in a tense parting that resulted in Signator firing the firm’s chief of operations before the switch.

Royal Alliance, the largest of Advisor Group’s four broker-dealers, announced the addition of Occidental Underwriters this week, noting 30 producing representatives at the Honolulu-based firm. The practice’s former BD, however, had months earlier decried what it referred to as “pre-recruiting” efforts by Occidental operations chief Brant Yamamoto, FINRA BrokerCheck filings show.

Signator terminated Yamamoto March 7 after learning he “intended to join competitor, was pre-recruiting other firm representatives to move to competitor, and allowed another broker-dealer to make office-wide recruiting presentations in firm-registered space,” according to a disclosure on Yamamoto’s permanent record. He registered with Royal Alliance two days later.

"Royal Alliance has no comment on the U5 language as there is pending litigation related to the language," says spokeswoman Clare McLaughlin.

Yamamoto didn’t return a phone message left in his office or an email sent through the firm’s website. A representative for Signator did not return requests for comment on the circumstances of the firm’s move.

“Joining Royal Alliance has given us more operational flexibility and a greater depth of resources that will help us continue serving our clients’ financial needs well into the future,” Yamamoto said in a prepared statement included in the announcement of the practice’s move. “We are excited to start this new chapter for our firm.”

The practice had joined Signator less than a year earlier, when Signator parent John Hancock acquired its former BD, Transamerica Financial Advisors. The purchase, which closed in May 2016, boosted Signator’s headcount by more than 800 advisors in 40 practices.

Lawrence Takeo Kagawa formed Occidental in 1933 as the Security Insurance Agency with a three-person staff. The firm offers insurance products and full-scale planning services.

Occidental’s new BD took in $467 million in revenue last year, a 1.2% increase from 2015 and the only growth in revenue at Advisor Group’s four BDs. In March, two of the firm’s hybrid RIAs merged to form a super OSJ with roughly $2.5 billion in assets.

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