Cetera Financial Group said Tuesday that it is appointing Michael Murray, a former LPL Financial executive, to head its new business development efforts. The move, according to one industry consultant, seems to be a sign that LPL isn’t likely to buy the group of six independent broker-dealers.
“Mike Murray is a top-flight recruiting executive,” said Jeff Nash, CEO of BridgeMark Strategies and a former in-house recruiter at LPL. “Beyond the strategic advantages Mike brings, this probably provides at least some closure to Cetera advisors who are anxious about LPL potentially buying Cetera.”
When asked about Cetera’s future in light of the review of both its capital structure and strategic direction — announced in late February and the source of much M&A speculation — Cetera CEO Robert Moore explained in general terms that “the process is moving along smoothly.”
Moore, who was president of LPL from mid-2012 to mid-2015, added that he is “excited at how [this work] is going, and the outcome we hope will drive relative to the objectives we set.”
For Nash, though, Cetera’s latest news should lead to significantly more doubt among advisors on the likelihood of an acquisition of the company by LPL.
“You can’t exclude the possibility that Cetera will be sold, but Mike Murray’s decision to join Cetera shows that he obviously doesn’t believe LPL is seriously in the running to acquire the company,” the consultant explained.
As for Murray, who was LPL’s national sales manager for the West since 2002, his focus will be on efforts such as recruiting, advisor growth and “enhancing the advisor experience,” according to Cetera. The network of IBDs first announced this new business approach in September, when it named Michael Zuna chief marketing officer.
Murray “demonstrated the energy, passion, insights and experience we were looking for from someone grounded in how things are being done today and really looking at the future,” Moore said.
“His role is not just about recruiting. It will include succession planning and … a whole range of activities designed to nest advisors into the best possible place” for their business and their clients.
As for what’s next, Cetera appears interested in further recruiting.
“We’re definitely going to invest additional capital, time and effort to help Murray identify others to join and expand the business-development effort across the country,” Moore said.
Cetera includes about 8,000 affiliated advisors with Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied Securities and Summit Brokerage Services.