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LPL-Affiliated RIA Merges With Bank-Focused Wealth Group

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Independent Financial Partners, an RIA that is affiliated with LPL Financial’s (LPLA) hybrid platform, says it has merged with Private Wealth Alliance.

Tampa-based IFP serves more than 500 advisors and has about $6 billion in assets under management, while Private Wealth Alliance includes about 40 investment professionals with $500 million in assets; it has advisors in community and regional banks and credit unions, and these financial institutions have between $200 million and $21 billion in assets. 

“The advisors of Private Wealth Alliance now have access to a multitude of resources from IFP, including direct access to seasoned advisors in wealth management and insurance, to further expand their client offerings,” said Dan Overbey, managing director of IFP Institutional Services and Private Wealth Alliance, in a statement.

With the deal, IFP advisors can now access Private Wealth Alliance’s bank relationships, meaning they can “tap into a direct pipeline of potential clients – the banks’ customers,” the groups say in a press release.

“As we look to grow IFP Institutional Services, we will look to build relationships with additional banks throughout the country,” said William Hamm, CEO of Independent Financial Partners, in the release. “This initiative is part of our multi-silo strategy to build up our presence in institutional services, as well as retirement plans, insurance and wealth management. The banking channel is an important leg on the IFP stool.”

Other LPL Developments

This news comes amid a bumpy week for LPL Financial.

LPL Financial agreed Tuesday to pay a total of $3.2 million to settle penalties regarding its sale of nontraded real estate investment trusts and leveraged ETFs.

Under a settlement reached with the North American Securities Administrators Association’s Non-Traded REIT Task Force, the San-Diego based LPL will pay civil penalties of $1.425 million to be distributed among 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for its failure to implement an adequate sytem to supervise the sale of nontraded REITs, as well as its failure to enforce its written procedures regarding the sale of the illiquid trusts.

In a joint settlement reached the same day with the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Delaware Attorney General, LPL’s Boston arm agreed to pay $1.8 million for placing approximately 200 Massachusetts clients into “risky” leveraged ETFs.

LPL reached a separate settlement with Massachusetts securities regulators in 2013 regarding its sales of nontraded REITs and faces a separate action by New Hampshire securities regulators. New Hampshire regulators want LPL to pay $3.6 million in fines and restitution for alleged unsuitable sales of nontraded REITs.

LPL said in a statement that while the indie BD continues “to be engaged — like most others in our industry — with our regulators on various matters, including as noted by NASAA …, the NASAA agreement represents resolution of the last of the most significant historical regulatory matters that we have been working through.” Under the terms of the joint settlement, the $1.8 million LPL will pay covers a $200,000 penalty, as well as $1.6 million to compensate investors and for investor education. The state of Delaware will also receive a total of $200,000 under a parallel agreement with the Delaware Department of Justice.

LPL said in its statement that under the Massachusetts and Delaware agreement, the indie BD will “make enhancements to its oversight of leveraged ETFs including implementation of a renewed training and monitoring program to ensure the proper and effective use of leveraged ETFs as part of investors’ overall financial plans.”

In 2015, FINRA levied a $11.7 million charge against LPL for supervisory failures in the sale of complex products and ordered that $6.3 million be paid in restitution for failing to waive mutual fund upfront charges on certain retirement and charitable organization accounts.

Earlier this week, Marcato Capital Management took a 6.3% stake in LPL Financial, according to regulatory filings.

As of Tuesday, the San Francisco-based hedge fund, which is run by Mick McGuire and known for its activist approach, owns some 6 million shares.

Marcato, which Reuters has called “one of the country’s hottest hedge funds,” thinks the independent brokerage’s shares are undervalued, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

In the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Marcato said it may reach out to LPL regarding the independent broker-dealer’s corporate growth strategies.

“LPL Financial maintains an active and ongoing dialogue with its investors and values their input as we work toward the common goal of driving stockholder value,” the company said in a statement.


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