May 13, 2013

Larry Roth: The 2013 IA 25 Extended Profile

President/CEO, Advisor Group

Roth is a busy guy, but he's not complaining Roth is a busy guy, but he's not complaining

This is Larry Roth’s second appearance on the IA 25. Read his extended profile from the 2012 IA 25 here. Click here to view the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles for each of the 2013 IA 25 honorees.

“It’s been seven days a week for five years. I haven’t seen a weekend since the wheels came off in 2008,” said Larry Roth without an ounce of self-pity. Quite the contrary, he seemed jazzed by the challenge his schedule brings, and said so: “All of this gives me energy; I see it as a real treat.”

His definition of “treat” aside, the “this” he refers to is his role as 2013 chairman of the Financial Services Institute, chairman of the Insured Retirement Institute and his day job as president and CEO of Advisor Group, one of the largest independent broker-dealer networks.

Think about this the next time someone complains about not being able to “find the time” to get involved.

We weren’t sure where to begin, so we let him take the lead.

“FSI has been around for a number of years now,” he said. “It’s led by Dale Brown, who has brought in people to fill key positions who are CEOs of independent broker-dealers. Most of the big firms are now represented, as are mid-size firms and those that are privately held. He is a great guy, a good manager, and he keeps all the committees moving forward.”

Brown does it, Roth explained, by having every member of the board sit on an operating committee, which makes sense: If you want to continually move things forward, be sure to leverage the leadership of people who run businesses on a daily basis.

And leading they are.

“On the fiduciary issue, for instance, we’re engaging with three national regulatory bodies, as well as 50 states. Of those 50 states, a dozen have become more active with the fiduciary issue. So it’s not just the DOL fiduciary rule that we are dealing with, and all of that takes some doing.”

Other areas of active engagement involve the independent business model itself, which Roth said “is being stressed.” 

“Advisors are aging. There are a lot of baby boomer advisors. How do they stay in business, effectively serve clients, deal with an expensive regulatory environment, and quite frankly, how do they make a buck with interest rates so low? These are all issues FSI is tackling.”

Specific to the Advisor Group, which is owned by AIG, the thing Roth said he is most excited about is the fact that the network is “back in growth mode.”

“We have 6,000 advisors and a retention rate last year of 97%. We also acquired Woodbury Financial in 2012 [from The Hartford], and I am really excited to work with president and CEO Pat McEvoy and his team. We retained 98% of Woodbury advisors after closing.”

In addition to recruiting financial advisors from other broker-dealers, Advisor Group is exploring ways to bring new advisors to the industry. For example, it’s partnering with a sister AIG life and retirement company, AGLA, “to transform its career distribution force.”

“AGLA is home to nearly 2,000 career agents who focus primarily on the middle market,” Roth explained. “Advisor Group is partnering with AGLA to transform the distribution structure for AGLA career agents who want to adopt a broader, full-service financial planning model. It’s a unique way to bring new advisors to our industry and one we’re confident will be successful.”

After watching Roth work for a number of years now, we’re inclined to believe it.

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