Securities America, the broker-dealer firm owned by Ameriprise Financial, may be closer to a sale amid word that its reps and advisors are being asked to sign loyalty pledges -- a common practice that often occurs when the sale of a company is being negotiated.

A Securities America employee who did not want to be identified said the letter wasn't conceived by management but rather it was the product of a “grassroots” effort by reps and advisors within the company who said they have no intention of leaving for another platform and wanted to do something to help boost morale.

However, the source said the "letter of support" was written with the editorial help of company personnel.

"We have great relationships with our advisors and have developed a community here," Janine Wertheim, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in an emailed statement. "Our advisors simply suggested a letter where they could demonstrate their support. We've talked to hundreds of our advisors over the past few months, and we sent the letter to those who had indicated they wanted to show their support."

Securities America, with over 1,800 reps, earlier this year reached a tentative $80 million negotiated settlement in a major class-action lawsuit, which alleges the company sold clients hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent Medical Capital and Provident Royalties securities. The settlement with investors is scheduled to be finalized at a federal court hearing in Dallas on July 25.

The firm is in the process of reaching or finalizing settlements with other investors and announced a $5 million restitution settlement with the Massachusetts Secretary of State last month.

The source added that the letter was sent out on the company’s email system because the reps who initiated it had no way of reaching all of the other advisors who are independent and not company employees.

The letter included the following statements:

“We are confident in the abilities of Securities America's senior management team to navigate the company through these challenges and opportunities."

“We believe they will assist [parent company] Ameriprise in the selection of a new owner with the interests of the advisors and our clients firmly in mind."

“We intend to stay with Securities America to see what opportunities will come from this process.”

There is no word so far about whether the company is offering its employees retention bonuses in an effort to keep them on the job before a sale is completed.

The management of parent company Ameriprise stated in its first-quarter report that it intended to put Securities America up for sale.


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