Cetera CEO Adam Antoniades

Cetera Financial Group has a new CEO: Adam Antoniades, who’s served as its president since 2014. Antoniades took the leadership torch from interim CEO Ben Brigeman, who remains chairperson, on Tuesday.

Antoniades will now serve on Cetera’s board and lead its member broker-dealers — First Allied Securities (which he founded), Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Investment Services/Cetera Financial Institutions and Cetera Financial Specialists. The group says it has about 7,500 affiliated independent advisors and about $240 billion in client assets.  

The new chief executive takes over some nine months after then-CEO Robert “RJ” Moore stepped down from the position and about a year since the private-equity firm Genstar Capital acquired a majority stake in Cetera for $1.7 billion. When Moore gave up the job, Genstar and Cetera said it had hired executive-search firm Heidrick & Struggles for help in permanently filling the slot.

“We talked to some very strong candidates” from inside and outside Cetera, Brigeman said in an interview. “We also wanted … someone who is well known and well respected in the industry. And we kept coming back to one individual, and that was Adam. We are … extremely excited to have him in the role.”

When asked about how his leadership strategy would be affected by recent consolidation in the industry — Charles Schwab moving to buy TD Ameritrade for $26 billion and Advisor Group announcing plans to purchase Ladenburg Thalmann in a deal with an enterprise value of — Antoniades said: “Industry consolidation has been a trend for some time, and the [different] stakeholders are starting to look like each other.”

Though Cetera hasn’t made headlines for any large deal over the past year or so (despite industry gossip that it might be a bidder), it could do so in the future, according to the new CEO: “Part of the consolidation is inevitable, and we expect to play [a part] in it,” explained the new CEO.

In terms of related trends such as margin compression and digitization, “We have been focused [on them] for awhile now. They’ve played in our favor in that we’ve already been in this mode and executing, so our staff can be nimble,” added Antoniades. “We are strategically in position to participate in these changes.”

As for Cetera’s overall competitive approach, “We were early in our branding of offering an ‘Advice-Centric Experience.’ That will continue to be our focus and aim as we navigate the [industry] landscape,” he said.

In February, following Moore’s abrupt departure from the CEO slot, advisor recruiter and industry veteran Jon Henschen said, “I would have thought they would move Adam in [to the CEO role] given his deep understanding of the industry and Cetera’s competitors.”

At the time, Brigeman said Genstar had “full confidence in Cetera’s strategy and the strength of its management team.” He cited the completion of the firm’s fiduciary duty when discussing the wrap-up of the CEO search on Tuesday.