Atria CEO Doug Ketterer Atria CEO Doug Ketterer

Atria Wealth Solutions is buying Cadaret Grant, an independent broker-dealer with about 900 advisors and some $23 billion in assets under administration that has been in business since 1985.

The news comes about seven months after Atria was formed by three industry veterans as a wealth management solutions holding company that includes CUSO Financial Services and Sorrento Pacific Financial, both of which serve advisors based in credit unions and banks from their headquarters in San Diego. Its operations encompass about 500 institution-based advisors and some $30 billion in client assets.

“Cadaret Grant is a leader in the independent broker-dealer channel, while we have a strong presence in the financial institutions channel,” said Atria CEO Doug Ketterer in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

“This development gives us a multichannel strategy … and powerful enterprises to leverage across the business — such as best practices — and at scale, which is very exciting,” explained Ketterer, the former head of field management at Morgan Stanley.

According to Atria and Cadaret, based in Syracuse, New York, Pershing will remain the clearing and custody partner for the two firms and their various entities.

“This whole transaction will not require new forms or changes for advisors’ clients,” said Cadaret CEO Art Grant. “It involves no burden for advisors, no dislocation, and should be very smooth.”

Due to changes in regulation and technology, “The advisory world is changing very rapidly,” said Ketterer, “and that means changing expectations for clients … Advisors today do not look for broker-dealers to be a pure utility, for instance; they look to them now as real partners. This aligns wonderfully with how Art has run Cadaret Grant in the past and how we run Atria today.”

Atria, he adds, plans to invest capital in technology, products and services “that meet the growing demands of both advisors and their clients.”

Ketterer founded Atria with the support of Lee Equity Partners and in cooperation with COO Eugene Elias, the prior head of client and advisor platforms at Morgan Stanley; and Chief Growth Officer Kevin Beard, who previously led acquisition and recruiting strategies for the Advisor Group of IBDs.

“Banks and credit unions are increasingly interested in wealth management and having relationships to add investment solutions,” said Ketterer. “So, there are opportunities here with institutions looking for high-quality advisors.”

Some financial institution clients have “reached out to Atria management about advisors joining their branch networks, and as time goes by this is an interesting opportunity,” he explained, “with cross-pollination for advisors and clients.”

— Check out M&A Activity for RIAs Surges in Q1, Poised for Boffo Year on ThinkAdvisor.