From the March 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Catching up with... Keith Gregg

In a previous life, Keith Gregg, president of independent broker/dealer First Allied Securities, served in the detachment aboard Marine One, the President's helicopter, during the Reagan Administration. Proud of his service and the Marine ethos, Gregg is also gung ho about the opportunities to help First Allied reps grow their businesses and maybe even acquire other firms. He spoke with Editorial Director Jamie Green by phone in January.

You joined First Allied back in August 2007. How are things going with the transition? We've got all the major changes implemented and the critical hires have been put in place; the wheels are in motion to take us to the promised land.

What is that promised land? Helping advisors really grow their business, both organically and through acquisition. Most advisors know the organic growth part of their business really well--they've built their business one account at a time over time; one client at a time over time. What they haven't been educated on is the three things needed to build a business: time, people, and money.

One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we are entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs. That's the DNA of the organization--both at the parent company level (Advanced Equities Financial Corp.), at First Allied Securities, and down to our advisors: helping them think like entrepreneurs--understanding the relationship between risk and reward. We're focused on identifying successful entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. Two key words: entrepreneurial and grow. We're putting our money where our mouth is.

We've made a significant investment in our business strategies group to help our folks get the certified wealth strategist designation. We're trying to prepare them to go after the ultra-affluent, to learn how to speak to them, and understand their wants, needs, and desires, which are very different from even the mass affluent. Then you have to satisfy them: the way to the HNW market is access to unique products and service; they don't want commoditized products. That's where our private equity comes into play, our hedge funds, our other alternative investments, and our integrated wealth management platform. So it's education and a turnkey business development program that includes lead generation, helping them build vertical markets primarily among small business owners where the bulk of America's wealth is.

The third component is something called Advisor Bank, the bank for our advisors to underwrite the future growth of their business. As long as they've got a business plan that the business strategies group puts together for them, including a complete diagnostic on their book of business; and put together goals and objectives by the advisor, not us; and action steps to support the plan for future growth--well, it's like having an application in place for a small business loan, an SBA loan. They can come to the Advisor Bank; we have a loan committee to review the plan. If we say the plan makes sense, we'll help underwrite that plan for growth. We'll grow our business by helping them grow their business.

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