August 15, 2012

Bridgeworth Decamps to LPL From Lincoln With $1B in Assets

Bridgeworth Financial adds reps from Ameriprise and others, signs on to LPL’s hybrid-RIA platform

Bridgeworth Financial of Birmingham, Ala., formed its own RIA on Thursday and is now affiliated with the LPL Financial (LPLA) hybrid-RIA platform. The group, which now includes 16 financial advisors and manages about $1 billion in client assets, was part of Lincoln Financial Advisors since 1994.

PinOak Advisors, an independent financial advisory practice previously with Ameriprise Financial (AMP), recently became part of Bridgeworth, as did two other advisors in the greater Birmingham area.

“We saw that forming our own RIA was best for our future growth, and we chose LPL for many reasons,” said DeLynn Zell, managing principal of Bridgeworth Financial, in an interview with AdvisorOne. “We decided the hybrid model is best for us, as we still need a broker-dealer affiliation, and having multiple custodians was not quite as attractive.”

Forming a custodial relationship with LPL, Zell says, should create “tremendous efficiencies for our advisors and clients.”

“We are really excited about Bridgeworth Financial joining us, as they are a very special group of advisors,” said Bill Morrissey (left), LPL Financial’s executive vice president of business development, in an interview.

“With close to $1 billion in assets, the group serves high-profile, high-net-worth clients and has a good mix of fee-based and brokerage business,” Morrissey said. “This is a terrific strategic partnership.”

According to the LPL executive, the catalyst for Bridgeworth’s “aspirational move” was the “desire to grow and evolve.”

“What stood out for them was how our integrated hybrid platform could boost efficiency,” he said, “how our practice-management support could help them grow organically, and how their expansion in the Southeast can be supported by this partnership.”

In Zell’s words, “The transition to LPL was simply [part of] an evolving business model that made this a better fit for our firm.”

LPL Trends

Earlier this month, LPL Financial and Advantage Financial Group announced that AFG’s equity partnership of 63 independent advisors with $2 billion in client assets was affiliating with LPL. Before its transition to the LPL Financial broker-dealer platform, AFG was affiliated with the broker-dealer National Planning Corp., which is owned by Jackson National.

AFG was NPC’s primary office of supervisory jurisdiction (OSJ), with a total of 54 branch offices. The 63 AFG-affiliated indie advisors are now transitioning their securities registrations from NPC to LPL Financial, bringing client assets of roughly $2 billion.

In the second quarter, LPL says that 223 net new advisors joined the firm with $2.8 billion in net new advisory assets, representing 10% annualized growth."  Also, total advisory and brokerage assets were $353.0 billion at the end of the quarter, a jump of 3.6% from $340.8 billion a year earlier.

Assets under custody in the LPL Financial RIA platform grew 52.6% to $29.9 billion as of June 30, encompassing 166 RIA firms, compared with $19.6 billion and 128 RIA firms 12 months before.

“Macro trends are increasingly becoming a catalyst for large groups, especially independent teams to be looking at their options,” Morrissey said. “The industry is consolidating quickly, and margins are deteriorating at many firms at the local level.”

This is prompting many groups of advisors in the independent space to form partnerships with firms that best support them and their growth, he adds.

“With the hybrid-RIA platform, they are the RIA and we are the primary custodian. Because the assets on the same chassis, the technology is fully integrated, and advisors and staff only need to be familiar with one operating system.”

This arrangement leads to “huge local efficiencies” and gives reps “lots of flexibility” while relieving them of some administrative work, Morrissey notes.

“The hybrid platform has become a platform of choice for larger advisors and groups of advisors,” he said, adding that it allows them “to be very nimble in the marketplace when it comes to communicating with clients.”

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