Focus Adds Former FiNet Team, Lebenthal Brings on Morgan Stanley Group

Meanwhile, Securities America picks up a Wells Fargo rep, and United Planners says it had a banner year in 2013

Independent wealth management firms and RIAs continue to attract teams and advisors from rivals and from the wirehouses. In addition, several financial services groups announced recently that they had hit major milestones in their business results.

Focus Financial Partners said Wednesday that Summit Financial of Lafayette, La., joined its partnership of independent wealth management firms. The independent RIA has about $600 million in client assets. In addition, Focus says it has completed nine transactions in early 2014.

Summit was previously affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network (or FiNet), the independent advisor channel of the bank, for nearly eight years.

“Summit’s client-centric service model and entrepreneurial spirit make them a natural addition to our partnership,” said Rudy Adolf, founder and CEO of Focus, in a statement. “Focus has successfully supported more than 40 mergers for our partner firms, and we plan to do the same for Summit as they look to acquire new talent to further establish a regional presence in the Southeast.”

Summit Financial was founded in 2003 by Fred Werner and David Daniel, both former Legg Mason advisors who have worked together for more than 15 years. Other partners include Todd Lambert and Michael Pharr.

 “Our decision to join Focus was influenced by the depth and quality of the partnership, as well as their capabilities and resources in satisfying specific growth objectives,” said Daniel, in a press release.

“As a partner firm, Focus provides us with the capital and deal expertise to grow through strategic acquisitions, while still allowing us to maintain focus on our clients,” he explained. “We are excited to expand our reach through the addition of other like-minded broker teams and independent firms.”

Focus Financial Partners now has over $70 billion in total client assets.

Last week, Securities America said Hilary Jones Rojo joined Verus Capital Partners, a branch of Securities America, from Wells Fargo Advisors, where she supported clients from nine different branches. 

“Going independent allows me to develop deeper relationships with my clients,” Jones Rojo said in a statement. “I really like the feel of an independent broker-dealer, with enough sophistication and support from both Securities America and my managing principal.”

Prior to joining Securities America, Jones Rojo managed $65 million in client assets. She holds Series 7 and 66 licenses.

“Hilary’s desire to both enhance client relationships and grow her practice represents the reasons many advisors are choosing the support and culture Securities America offers,” said Gregg Johnson, senior vice president of branch office development and acquisitions, in a press release.

Lebenthal Wealth Advisors of New York shared in late-March that the Gallaway Stern Group joined the firm from Morgan Stanley with about $1.2 billion in client assets. The Gallaway Stern Group’s principals are Carrie S. Gallaway, CFP, and Andrew L. Stern, who have more than 32 years of combined industry experience.

“Throughout their career, Carrie and Andy have won respect and recognition from their clients and the financial community for the high quality of their work, integrity and client centric philosophy,” said Lebenthal Wealth Advisors Chairman & CEO Frank Campanale, in a statement. 

“They come to Lebenthal to become part of a culture that empowers them to deliver the best client service, unconflicted advice and act as true fiduciaries,” Campanale explained. “Carrie and Andy joining Lebenthal provide an incontrovertible testimonial to the fact that dynamic and astute advisory teams have an appreciation for the boutique approach being offered at our firm.”

Gallaway and Stern were at Morgan Stanley for 15 and 17 years, respectively. In addition, the team joining Lebenthal includes Jimmy E. Janeczek, Leigh T. Moglia and Alexander P. Tuason.

“The ultimate beneficiaries of our decision to join Lebenthal are our clients,” said Carrie Gallaway, in a statement. “One of the key motivators for our move was to find an organization that would truly help us provide the best unconflicted service to our clients. The ability to choose among a number of custodians and providers offered by Lebenthal, empowers us to present to our clients the choice and competitive pricing they deserve and expect from us.”

United Planners milestones

On Tuesday, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based United Planners Financial Services said it boosted its advisor force by 6% and its revenues by 13% last year, the best recruiting results in its 25-year history.

In addition, the annual fees and commissions of the top 20% of the 350-plus advisors in the partnership of independent wealth management firms increased by 18%.

"We have surpassed our recruiting goals and look forward to continued growth," said United Planners President David Shindel in a statement. "And while we are extremely pleased with the results of our recruiting efforts, we are even more pleased by the reasons advisors cite for choosing to affiliate with us."

"At United Planners, I know who to call to get assistance, solve a problem, cultivate an idea, or vent, if I'm disturbed about something,” said advisor Mike MacDonald of Pleasant Hill, Calif., in a statement.

“Everything with UP is transparent, and I feel that I am a partner, not a minion,” the advisor said. “I know that compliance works with me (not against me), and there is a great sense of confidence that UP has my back."

Wisconsin Advisor Chooses Pensionmark

Financial advisor Erik Swenson, president of Retirement Plan Solutions in Wisconsin, affiliated with Pensionmark Retirement Group, creating RPS Pensionmark, earlier this week.

“Our goal since the inception of Retirement Plan Solutions 10 years ago has been to provide highest quality services to the employers, plan fiduciaries, and employees of the 401k and other corporate retirement plans we serve,” Swenson said in a statement.

“We are grateful to announce our strategic affiliation with Pensionmark, and to integrate their award-winning retirement plan tools and services with those we provide in an effort to further ensure our delivery of highly effective services to our clients and their employees for many years to come,” he added.  

Swenson has 34 years of experience in the financial industry.

 “Erik brings with him great vision and an experienced relationship team. His commitment to excellence fits well with our culture. We are glad to have Erik and his team as a part of the Pensionmark family,” said Mike Woods, managing director at the Santa Barbara, Calif., corporate office, in a press release.

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