The recent exit of TD Ameritrade Institutional’s head of innovation, Dani Fava, has some industry watchers predicting that other TD Ameritrade leaders will leave, too, as Charles Schwab’s agreement to purchase the firm becomes a reality.
“I would anticipate we’ll see more departures from TD Ameritrade soon, as the current team there tries to evaluate whether they see a future for themselves with Schwab,” said popular blogger Michael Kitces via email, “whether they’d rather explore and pursue opportunities at other firms … or even if they decide to jump the divide and JOIN (or start?) an advisory firm.”
Fava’s departure comes about six weeks after the the two firms’ shareholders and the Justice Department gave the “Schwabitrade” deal a thumbs-up.
These developments and “Schwab signaling an anticipation of significant ‘cost synergies’ (i.e., staff consolidation and layoffs), [means] it was only a matter of time before top TD Ameritrade talent began to look for alternatives rather than take the risk of layoffs,” explained Kitces, who also is head of planning strategy for Buckingham Wealth Partners.
The Right Move?
Given the expected consolidation ahead with the Schwabitrade merger, Fava’s exit seems to make sense, according to April Rudin, marketing strategist and head of the Rudin Group.
“She took a preemptive strike, which was smart,” Rudin said. “There are lots of duplicate roles” in the merged company.
“Good for her,” said Tim Welsh, head of the consultancy Nexus Strategy, in an interview. “This is big news, as Dani is a very popular contributor to the industry in different forums.”
“In a very uncertain world with two similar companies merging, people are asking, ‘What’s my role going to be in the consolidated organization, if at all?’” Welsh said.
Fava, who’s likely found an opportunity elsewhere, according to Welsh, may have been concerned about what impact she could have on innovation at such a large entity.
“Her job at TD Ameritrade Institutional didn’t exist anywhere else in the industry,” he said. “They created this for her, because of her talents, skill set, curiosity and communication abilities.”
The firm did the same for Kate Healy, head of Generation Next talent. “No other company does this,” Welsh said.
“Dani probably didn’t see as large a role in the new ultra-behemoth-gigantor custodian as she had at TD,” according to Craig Iskowitz, CEO of the consulting firm Ezra Group.
“She’s developed into an industry thought leader … and deserves a platform where she can continue to learn, grow and share her wisdom with the rest of us,” Iskowitz said via email.
As for Fava’s future, her next job should be announced soon.
“Knowing Dani and her reputation in the industry, she already has all kinds of interesting things lined up,” said Gavin Spitzner, head of the consulting group Wealth Consulting Partners.
Iskowitz agreed: “I expect to hear about her fantastic new gig and at up and coming fintech firm that is excited to have her front and center representing their brand.”
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