Cetera, Former ING Advisor Group, Hires Second Schwab Executive

Cetera said it had hired Mark Palmer as the firm's national sales manager after tapping Barnaby Grist in February

Cetera Financial Group, formerly ING Advisors Network, said Monday, August 30, it had hired Mark Palmer as the firm's national sales manager.

Palmer will oversee Cetera's advisory services sales and training and will report to Barnaby Grist, Cetera's executive vice president of wealth management. Both Grist and Palmer formerly worked for Charles Schwab.

In February, private-equity firm Lightyear Capital LLC completed its acquisition of the three independent broker/dealers that formerly constituted the ING Advisors Network--Financial Network, Multi-Financial, and PrimeVest. It then renamed the holding company Cetera, though the three broker/dealers' names remain unchanged.

Lightyear's chairman and CEO is Donald Marron, who headed Paine Webber for 20 years and also was chairman of UBS America after the brokerage firm's merger with PaineWebber.; he is chairman of Cetera's board. The CEO of Cetera Financial group is Valerie Brown, who replaced John Simmers as CEO of ING Advisors Network last year after Simmers's retirement.

Lightyear's plans to acquire ING Advisors Network were first announced in late 2009.

Based in El Segundo, Calif. (near Los Angeles), Cetera has some 4,955 affiliated independent advisors, including registered reps, registered investment advisors and investment advisor reps. Financial Network has about 2,600 financial professionals; Multi-Financial has roughly 1,000; and PriveVest has 1,500 or so.

The advisors manage about $76 billion in client assets.

"I'm eager to contribute to what Cetera and its advisors are building," said Palmer in a statement. "The industry reached an inflection point in 2008 and the momentum clearly favors independent financial advisors."

Before working for Schwab, where he focused on RIAs, Palmer worked for Comerica's wealth-management division and for Wells Fargo's private client business, where he started his career.

"Mark has a rich background with proven results in helping advisors succeed in financial services and he's been extremely successful throughout, starting as an advisor, leading Wells Fargo's private client efforts and helping establish RIAs and accelerate their growth," said Grist in a press release.

In June, Cetera said it had successfully rolled out the AdvisoryOnline 2.0 platform to advisors with Financial Network and Multi Financial Securities.

In a recent interview, Cetera CEO Valerie Brown told Investment Advisor that the Cetera name -- from the Latin for "other" -- is a reflection of "our commitment to our field organization as well as to their clients, to put them first."

The benefits of the Lightyear acquisition, she said, are in the scale of the three broker/dealers, but more importantly in "strong access to capital that will fuel our growth in recruiting."

Cetera is "committed to the hybrid model, and we believe in consumer choice," she explained.

(Palmer and Grist could not be reached by phone on August 30, but Grist plans to further outline Cetera's growth plans in an interview with this website in early September.)

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