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$225M Waddell & Reed team bolts to launch RIA amid industry’s shift

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A Waddell & Reed team with $2.2 million in annual production bolted to launch an independent RIA, in at least the second major departure from the No. 13 independent broker-dealer in one week.

Partners Gary Bouch, Brian Coxon and Matthew Wagner of Oxinas Partners Wealth Management, which has $225 million in client assets, selected Charles Schwab as their primary custodian. Fusion Financial Partners, which assisted the Indiana-based team in opening the RIA, announced the move on Aug. 28.

They left Waddell & Reed at nearly the same time as another team of three advisors with about $235 million in assets under management. Waddell & Reed’s head count has fallen by 29% since last year to 1,130 advisors amid such departures and an effort by the firm to trim lower producers from its ranks.

Bouch plans to drop his Series 7 registration, while Coxon and Wagner affiliated with M.S. Howells on the brokerage side for their small portion of transaction-based business, Bouch notes. The practice had embarked on a search as their five-year contract with Waddell & Reed ended on July 31, he says.

“The entire industry is moving in this direction,” Bouch says. “The only way to be truly independent anymore is to move into the RIA space. You get to do what’s best for your clients with no pressure from your organization or relationship that your organization may favor over others.”

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In an emailed statement, Waddell & Reed spokesman Roger Hoadley confirmed the team’s departure.

“Our firm continues its evolution and, while that process will see departures and additions along the way, our focus is on executing on our strategy toward growth and advancement in support of our network of experienced financial advisors around the country,” Hoadley says.

The Jeffersonville, Indiana-based practice also includes two support staff. Wagner had spent eight years with Waddell & Reed, while Coxon had joined the IBD five years ago following his four-year tenure with JPMorgan Chase, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Prior to Waddell & Reed, Bouch had affiliated for roughly four years with Ameriprise, six years with UBS and two years with Hilliard Lyons. Most of the practice’s clients are individuals from the area across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, along with about a dozen small businesses.

The team has yet “to come across a single client who’s not very positive” about the move, Coxon says. The partners feel a great deal more freedom under their new arrangement, he says, counseling other advisors considering such a move to go ahead with their plans.

“Don’t wait, get it done, because it’s truly a liberating experience, and the longer you wait, the longer it takes to get it done,” Coxon says.

Mike and Kimberly Papedis opened Fusion last year after they left HighTower. The consulting firm helps shorten the process of starting an RIA to as little as three to four months from anywhere as long as a year and a half to two years, Mike Papedis says. Fusion has helped four RIAs get off the ground this year.

“When the advisors engage with us, they’re coming to us saying, ‘I want your expertise and guidance,’” Mike Papedis says. “Anyone contemplating change, they have a day-to-day responsibility to serve clients and be there for their team. It’s very difficult to do that and also plan a move with this complexity.”

Bouch praised the Papedis’ team for leading an agnostic search for his practice’s custodian, technology and operational partners. In addition to Schwab, Oxinas Partners chose MoneyGuidePro for planning, Redtail for its CRM and Orion Advisor Services for trading and data aggregation.

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