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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

Cetera Adds 35 FAs From QA3, Taps Ex-LPL Exec for Top Sales Post

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Cetera Financial Group has had quite a week. On Monday, it said 35 advisors formerly with QA3 Financial Group are joining its network of independent broker-dealers.

And on Tuesday, it hired broker-dealer veteran Allison Couch – previously with LPL Financial — as its national sales manager.  She replaces Mark Palmer, who recently left Los Angeles-based Cetera to join a San Francisco-based RIA.

“It’s so great to have Allison,” said Cetera CEO Valerie Brown (left) in a phone interview Friday. “We are just so enthusiastic about her future with us.” 

Cetera, which now has about 4,750 advisors, said that its 35 new FAs produce roughly $5 million in yearly fees and commissions – which represents about $143,000 a year per ex-QA3 FA on average.

Financial Network, one of Cetera’s three-broker dealers and the BD that supports teams of FAs through a regional- director model, added 20 QA3 advisors with some $3 million in yearly sales.

Many of these 20 advisors joined BAR Financial, the part of Financial Network led by John Brackett and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, which now includes about 400 FAs. The remaining FAs joined Financial Network in Omaha.

Multi-Financial, which focuses on serving stand-alone entrepreneurial advisors, added 15 QA3 advisors with $2.2 million in gross yearly revenue. The advisors join Multi-Financial at branches in Omaha and in several cities in Florida.

“Cetera welcomes advisors from the QA3 Financial Group,” Brown said, “and we look forward to forging productive relationships with them from our home base in ways that allow them to run their business as they want to.”

QA3 closed the door of its Omaha-based broker-dealer in mid-February. At the time, it included about 400 advisors and was facing bankruptcy and a potential net-capital violation.  

In addition to being added by Cetera, some of QA3’s former advisors have been picked up by broker-dealers like FSC Securities, which recently said it was adding 50 FAs from the now-defunct broker-dealer.

Recruiting Momentum

Cetera CEO Brown says such industry consolidation is helping its recruiting efforts. 

“In the third quarter of 2010, things started to really pick up and our rate of recruiting doubled,” she said. “We hope to recruit about $75 million in sales this year, and in the last 2 quarters we brought in $50 million.”

This recent uptick leads Brown to conclude that Cetera’s $75 million push for 2011 “is achievable, and we’re on track.”

About 60% of Cetera’s sales are from recurring or fee-based revenue, with the remainder coming from commissions, she says.


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