Advisors working with independent broker-dealers under the Cetera Financial Group umbrella will be invited to network-wide conferences in the future, according to President Adam Antoniades. Starting next year, the gatherings will include breakout sessions and other activities geared toward each of its member firms in the same location as the general sessions.
“We’re creating a national conference experience that encompasses multiple firm-specific events that give each firm’s advisors the opportunity to reconnect with one another in a familiar atmosphere that celebrates the longstanding heritage and community of each Cetera member firm, while also providing events that bring together all firms and their advisors across the entire Cetera network,” said President Adam Antoniades, in a statement.
With a total of roughly 8,000 affiliated advisors, Cetera’s BD group includes Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Investment Services/Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied Securities, Girard Securities, and Summit Brokerage Services.
When asked why the firm is centralizing the conferences, Antoniades explained the aim of the new event is to “celebrate each firm as well as the broader Cetera organization [and] show everything we can achieve when we come together as one network, while simultaneously reinforcing our commitment to the distinct cultures of each member firm.”
The Cetera leader says the BD network's move “addresses extensive advisor feedback we’ve received seeking more opportunities to get to know the leaders and advisors at other Cetera member firms in one logistically convenient setting.”
The company acknowledged that while ThinkAdvisor has received negative remarks about the plan, which some may have seen as representing the end of individual broker-dealer events, it remains “confident that advisors who are reacting to incomplete information … will embrace our approach once they have an opportunity to explore what we are delivering to them in greater detail,” explained Antoniades.
The notion that some advisors may have “incomplete information” about the '18 conference plans may be driven in part by decentralized communications about it.
Each BD’s management team is tasked with determining “when and how to best communicate with advisors about planned national conference enhancements next year, provided that all communications are completed over the next several weeks,” said Cetera spokesman Joe Kuo.
“Our understanding is that the majority of our member firms have chosen to provide a very preliminary update on our national conferences plan for next year at their respective national conferences that just concluded late last month, with further details to follow later on this month,” Kuo said.
The process of updating advisors on the conference plans, Antoniades explains, will wrap up “over the course of the next several weeks.”
In terms of the reactions from reps he has been in direct contact with thus far about the news to host one large event (rather than multiple events in separate venues), it’s been “overwhelmingly positive,” the executive insists.
The company says the news does not mean it is moving toward further centralization or consolidation of its operations, though some advisors may harbor these concerns given such trends within the industry.
On Tuesday, for instance, Kestra said it was buying H. Beck from Securian. And there continues to be intense industry speculation about the possible sale of National Planning Holdings’ broker-dealers.
In 2016, for instance, Cetera struck a deal to sell the Legend Group to Lincoln Investment Capital Holdings and merged VSR Financial Services into Summit Brokerage Services and Investors Capital into Cetera Advisors; it indicated at the time that further sales or winding-down events were not expected.
One advisor, at least, is not anxious about the change in conference plans.
“This isn’t replacing anything we’ve always enjoyed by way of national conferences, but rather, it adds a new layer of conference experiences that I can choose to participate in or not,” said Dan May, president and CEO of AdvisorNet Financial, an affiliate of Cetera Advisor Networks, in a statement.
The new approach also could bring Cetera “the buying power to provide us with significantly enhanced experiences that don’t need to be member firm specific, like higher caliber keynote speakers for certain main stage events,” May explained, “and more comprehensively built-out demo stations for us to test drive new technologies and tools.”
In addition to hosting separate events held in conjunction with the new network-wide national conferences, the Cetera-affiliated IBDs will continue to stage their own top-producer activities in different venues, the company adds.
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