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Cetera Replaces CEO Roth With Moore as RCS Bankruptcy Woes Fade

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Less than a week after talk of a possible change at the top, Cetera Financial Group says board Chairman Robert J. Moore will take over as CEO from Larry Roth on Sept. 12.

According to Moore, Roth will stay on as a consultant through year-end. Board member Robert Dineen is set to become the acting nonexecutive chairman of Aretec, Cetera’s parent company.

“This transition was driven by the board and its assessment of the company’s future … and what it wanted to do that would be best” for the firm, its roughly 9,000 affiliated advisors and their clients, Moore said in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

“They asked me to consider the role in light of the company’s possibilities, to accelerate that [plan] and take it forward. The company is very well positioned to have an impact and influence in the advisor field,” he said.

Cetera’s new CEO, who served as president of LPL Financial from May 2012 to March 2015, is giving up his role as head of Legal & General Investment Management America, an asset manager.

According to Cetera, President Adam Antoniades will keep his current post and report directly to Moore.

While Moore points to the Aretec board as the primary source of the leadership shift, the firm’s new owners appear to be playing at least a supporting role in the change.

“As a shareholder who is in this for the long term, I recognize Cetera’s strong value creation opportunities, and I’m enthusiastic about Robert Moore becoming the CEO,” said David King, managing director of Fortress Strategic Capital, in a statement.

“Robert is widely known throughout the industry as a passionate advocate for advisors, with broad based leadership experience for the opportunity at hand,” King explained. “He has a unique blend of skills that make him the right person at the right time to lead the company forward.”

In addition to Fortress, Aretec’s current owners include the Carlyle Investment Management and Eaton Vance Management. The investors took ownership during the bankruptcy proceedings at RCS Capital, the earlier name of Cetera’s parent company.

The bankruptcy was tied to Nicholas Schorsch, a founder of RCS Capital, and some of his business partners, who became embroiled in an accounting scandal tied to a nontraded real estate investment trust group and related matters roughly two years ago. “Larry’s strength was damage control, and they brought him to help with the Schorsch debacle. He had helped the Advisor Group when its parent firm AIG was going through the TARP malaise,” said recruiter Jon Henschen, in an interview.

“They are no longer in damage control mode but in growth control mode. Moore is in sync with that and has experience with building scale and ultimately going public … maybe three to five years from now,” Henschen explained. “This is a new chapter, and Moore has a favorable reputation for work in that direction.”

Another industry insider says Roth deserves recognition for leading Cetera through the long list of challenges it faced in recent years.

“There’s no debating the fact that Larry Roth was the CEO who literally saved Cetera from potential extinction, and in that sense, his departure from the company is definitely a loss. The entire company, its advisors and institutions all owe him a debt of gratitude,” said Nash Consulting Group President Jeff Nash, who used to do in-house recruiting for LPL and now works with advisors at Cetera on practice management and related issues.

“With that said, many companies will pigeonhole CEOs into a wartime leader or peacetime leader role, and it looks like that’s what happened here,” Nash explained. “As far as peacetime CEOs, go, it would be tough to do better than Robert Moore.  His experience leading LPL Financial combined with his track record for building very strong and personal relationships with LPL’s advisors and super-OSJ firms could be extremely helpful in Cetera’s next chapter of development.”