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RCS to Add Girard; Renames IBD Group

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RCS Capital has said it is buying independent broker-dealer Girard Securities. The news came right after RCAP said its rapidly growing IBD network will be called Cetera Financial Group and that it is expanding platforms and services for advisors.

“We view Girard, along with our recently announced agreement to acquire VSR Group, as another example of an exciting accretive ‘tuck-in’ acquisition for our retail investment advice platform,” said Cetera Financial Group CEO Larry Roth, in a press release.

Based in San Diego, Girard includes 250 affiliated advisors and over $10 billion of client assets under administration. The reps have average yearly fees and commissions of $210,000.

Upon completion of the Girard deal, RCAP’s retail-advice network should include 9,700-plus independent advisors. RCS Capital—which is led by Executive Chairman Nicholas Schorsch—also shared recently that it plans to buy VSR Group of Overland Park, Kan., for an undisclosed amount. VSR has some $12.3 billion in client assets and 264 affiliated advisors.

“This transaction represents another successful step in solidifying RCAP as a leading independent retail advice platform,” RCAP President Michael Weil explained in a statement.

“This transaction, coupled with our recently announced agreement to acquire VSR Group, further demonstrates our commitment to capitalize on external growth opportunities in order to further strengthen RCAP’s leading platform,” Weil added.

Richard Woltman, who serves as chairman emeritus of Girard’s board, founded First Affiliated Securities some 40 years ago with two partners. First Affiliated went on to become First Allied, and it joined RCAP last year.

“We believe RCAP’s commitment to maintaining the separate identity and culture of Girard was one of the most attractive aspects of this combination,” said Gerard CEO and Chairwoman Susie Woltman Tietjen, in a press release. “This transaction will allow Girard to leverage the resources of what we believe to be one of the industry’s fastest growing and most innovative firms.”

Cetera Financial Group expects the transaction should close in late 2014 or early 2015, subject to certain regulatory approvals and associated conditions.

According to Roth, Cetera Financial Group is not looking to change the custodial arrangements of its advisors. “Pershing has been an important partner and should be part of our strategy going forward,” he said in an interview. “We have no plans to disrupt the partnership.”

Cetera’s operations include Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Financial Specialists, Cetera Investment Services (marketed as Cetera Financial Institutions), First Allied Securities, Investors Capital, J.P. Turner and Co., the Legend Group, Summit Brokerage Services, VSR Financial and now Girard Securities.

All advisors affiliated with these brands are set to have access to Connect2Clients, a marketing portal and advice service for FAs developed by Cetera; Pentameter, First Allied’s practice management and business consulting platform; and best practices in service and support from Summit Brokerage Services and Investors Capital, for instance.

“We look at the best of what the independent broker-dealers have to offer and are taking these tools across our firms by year-end,” Roth explained. While acquisitions of more IBDs are likely to happen “opportunistically,” retaining advisors and improving fees and commissions (“same-store sales”) are the top priorities, the executive notes.

“We will work to be the best in the independent space when it comes to services for our advisors,” he said. We have eight consultants working with them [via one program] and will add people or identify others in the organization, so we can go to all advisors and help them grow their business.”

In the second quarter, RCAP said the retail-advice segment pro forma revenues grew 7% quarter over quarter to nearly $495 million. Assets under administration for the retail advice unit grew nearly $6 billion from the prior period to $214.2 billion.

As for its wholesale distribution business, which includes the sale of non-traded real estate investment trusts and related products, RCAP says revenue for the second quarter was $325 million, up nearly 83% from the first quarter.


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