TD Ameritrade CEO to exit amid disagreement with board

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TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey announced that he will step down in February, citing disagreement over the future direction of the company with the board.

“I know we sort of ruined your evening,” Hockey told shareholders and analysts during a late Monday call that had been originally scheduled for Tuesday morning.

“I am not leaving for another job or to spend more time with my family, or for my health, or because I’ve done something contrary to our core values,” he said, adding that the decision was also not a reflection of company performance.

Analysts expressed surprise at the announcement.

“It feels like you were just sort of starting to hit your pace in the CEO role. And so it comes [as] a little surprising,” Brendan Hawken, an analyst at UBS, said on the call.

Hockey has been in the chief executive seat for about three years, overseeing one of the industry’s largest RIA custodians and retail brokerages. TD Ameritrade has approximately 11 million client accounts with $1.3 trillion in assets, according to the company. There are around 7,000 RIAs on its institutional platform.

Hockey repeatedly declined to comment beyond referencing conversations with the board on “the way forward, and at this time we just agreed that this is the right time for a transition in direction … It's not really that much more interesting than that, honestly. ” He said the board remains committed to the company’s strategy.

“As you're all well aware, boards and management teams regularly discuss plans for the future,” he said. “There are many factors that go into these discussions and the decision was not taken lightly by the board or myself.”

Hockey declined to comment on whether the disagreement had been based on discussions of a potential acquisition.

“Those types of conversations, especially those types of conversations, would be very confidential, so I really can’t comment on them,” Hockey said.

TD Ameritrade says it is looking internally and externally for a new chief executive. If one is named before February, Hockey will stay at the company in an advisory capacity, he said.

Prior to serving as CEO, Hockey had been with TD Bank Group since 1983 in a variety of positions, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Scott Hanson, CEO of Allworth Financial, which is one of the 30 firms to advise TD Ameritrade Institutional on its RIA advisory panel, says he received no prior communication about the upcoming departure, but is not concerned about how it will affect his own firm.

“I don’t know any of the details surrounding why he chose to move on,” Hanson says. “I’m sure the board will find a suitable replacement.”

Greg O’Gara, senior research analyst at Aite Group’s wealth management practice, says this sort of departure is not uncommon.

“The departure of Tim Hockey probably reflects an internal disagreement about the direction of the company and its strategy moving forward. Barring any other news, it's not unusual for these types of situations to arise,” he said in an email.

Analysts wished Hockey well in his next endeavor.

“These last three and a half years that I've been at TD Ameritrade have been one of the highlights of my career.” Hockey said.

A TD Ameritrade Institutional spokeswoman did not respond to a request for further comment.

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Clearinghouses/custodians RIAs C-suite Career moves Tim Hockey TD Ameritrade TD Bank