From the October 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

October 1, 2010

Cetera Financial Adding Managers, Re-Grouping FAs

Cetera Financial Group, the former ING Advisors Network, is hiring more executives for its wealth-management team. Alex Kaye, formerly of Wilshire Associates and UBS, is joining Cetera as vice president of research, and Kian Rafia, who previously worked for Ibbotson Associates and LPL Financial, is becoming director of advisory products.

Kay will report directly to Barnaby Grist, Cetera's executive vice president of wealth management (and a former Charles Schwab executive), while Rafia will report to Mark Palmer, Cetera's national sales manager.

"The core of what we're doing is going out to accelerate the movement of advisors away from the wirehouses. And Cetera is uniquely qualified to make a home for these advisors," said Grist in a phone interview.

However, though the firm is adding management, he expects the total number of advisors to fall as it puts more focus on working with FAs who "really want to succeed" and grow their business vs. large numbers of advisors with relatively low levels of yearly fees and commissions.

Still, Cetera is "looking at many ways of recruiting, with a big component of this taking place in house," Grist explained.

"We have doubled the recruiting force in the last six months," he said, "and have invested heavily in the past few months in really developing top-quality products, practice management and other capabilities."

Grist argues that Cetera's large size, talent and multiple broker-dealer model give it a "very powerful combination." Advisors can become regional directors at Financial Network, for instance, and pursue ownership opportunities this way, Grist notes.

"We are in the process of reshaping the business," Grist said.

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.

Based in El Segundo, Calif. (near Los Angeles), Cetera has some 5,000 affiliated independent advisors, including registered reps, registered investment advisors and investment advisor reps. Financial Network has about 2,500 financial professionals; Multi-Financial has roughly 1,000; and PriveVest has some 1,500.

The advisors manage about $76 billion in client assets.

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

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