John Simmers, who in his 30-year career helped consolidate ING’s roster of broker/dealers into the four B/Ds that comprise the ING Advisor Network, is retiring from the company. Simmers, 58, is currently chairman and CEO of ING Advisors Network; his “official role” with the company will end on April 16, says ING spokesman Phil Margolis, though Simmers will “play an advisory role” with ING while the company conducts a search for his permanent replacement.

ING has named Mark Marr, current executive VP and chief administrative officer at ING Advisors Network who heads finance, risk management, technology, and operations, to serve as interim CEO.

In an interview, Simmers said his decision had “nothing to do with ING,” pointing out that the company had had “a good last year,” which is continuing in 2009 with trading activity increasing. In fact, he said he had given notice “some time ago,” that he had “pulled out of the market 13 months ago,” and that his decision reflected his penchant for planning “his whole life in advance.”

However, Simmers said he’s “not walking away” from the industry, and that he planned to increase his advocacy role for the independent broker/dealer model. He called his interim successor Marr a “very good executive” with “credibility” whom he had worked with for 11 years and who knew his mind very well, and that he would have “an ongoing relationship with the firm.”

Catherine Smith, CEO of ING Retirement Services, called Simmers “one of the patriarchs of the modern day independent broker/dealer industry” in a prepared statement on April 3, and that “over the next few weeks, we will select his successor from a deep list of experienced and talented internal candidates.”

Simmers was appointed to a three-year term in 2007 to the FINRA Board of Governors as the Independent Dealer/Insurance Affiliate representative; in its announcement of his retirement, ING said that Simmers will complete his term.

Simmers began his career as an examiner with FINRA’s predecessor SRO, NASD, and later helped found the independent B/D Financial Network Investment Corp. (FNIC), which was acquired by Aetna Financial Services in 1997, and by ING Group in 2000. He became CEO of ING Advisors Network in 2001.

As of April 1, 2009, the ING Advisor Network had a total of 8,509 registered representatives, with the largest being FNIC, with 2,817 reps. For 2008, ING Advisor Network had $1 billion in revenue, with FNIC again the leader with $369 million in revenue.