Industry observers lamented the departure of Tom Bradley, the former head of both RIA and retail operations at TD Ameritrade.
Bradley’s time at the brokerage firm ended Thursday, when TD Ameritrade said that, as part of its merger with Scottrade, it was putting Pete deSilva in charge of the combined firm’s retail distribution business.
“Talk about a leader. Bradley was one of the good guys. He put his heart and soul into the RIA business” over the past 30 years, said consultant Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategy in an interview. “He championed the RIA cause when no one else was,” Welsh said, “since day one. TD’s RIAs will miss [him].”
Recruiter Jon Henschen says Bradley helped establish TD Ameritrade as a key player in the hybrid model for independent broker-dealers.
“He has also stayed clear of potential conflicts of interest, such as in-house financial planners or brick-and-mortar offices that have the potential to be competition to their independent advisors,” Henschen explained in an interview.
“Tom Bradley may have been the single largest, most consistent advocate for RIAs for more than a decade,” said Chip Roame, head of Tiburon Strategic Advisors, a consulting and research firm.
In the world of M&As, though, hiring and firing are part of the territory. “Peter deSilva is a seasoned executive who importantly will help bridge the acquisition of Scottrade,” said Roame.
This appears to be the thinking at TD Ameritrade, which announced a year ago that it was buying a rival discount brokerage firm for $4 billion.
“It was a very difficult business decision, but it was the right one, considering the implications of the integration ahead of us, as well as the plans we have for the long-term growth of this company,” said TD Ameritrade President and CEO Tim Hockey, in a statement.
In many ways, Welsh says, Bradley’s departure could have been anticipated.
“It’ s not surprising at all,” said the consultant, who — like Roame — is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and once worked for Charles Schwab. “No one can ever survive a retail job at a discount brokerage firm.”