Insurance broker/dealer World Securities Group (WSG) has merged its operations with Transamerica Financial Advisors, both of which are subsidiaries of Netherlands-based AEGON. According to FINRA filings, John Creek, Ga.-based World Securities Group filed a request to terminate its FINRA registration in mid-February. The merger was approved Jan. 6.
According to data compiled by Meridian-IQ, World Securities Group lost 702 advisors in the first three months of 2012, the most losses of any other broker/dealer this year. Meanwhile, Transamerica gained 708 FAs, the most of any firm this year. But according to Transamerica, the firm brought over 3,390 WGS reps. With Transamerica’s own 1,604 reps as of December 2011, the combined firm has a total of about 4,900 advisors.
Transamerica did not provide much detail about why it decided to merge, except to say that it was part of a strategy to optimize their business and leverage best practices. The firm will maintain a presence in Johns Creek.
In such types of bulk advisor transfers, most FAs will typically move to the new owner, said Ron Edde, senior career advisor with Armstrong Financial Group. In similar situations, advisors usually keep their same desk, office and management.
A few advisors, decided not to make the leap to Transamerica. A team out of Houston, which included Kevin Kusak, Donald Kusak and George Jones, moved to Proequities, according to Meridian-IQ. David Ting, based in Pasadena, Calif., went to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Big transfers of reps are certainly not uncommon, especially in the independent broker/dealer space. In December, Pacific West Securities closed down and made a deal to move its nearly 300 reps to Multi-Financial Securities.
Transamerica president Seth Miller did not return a call and email seeking comment. It’s unknown why the company will shut down and merge with Transamerica.
Edde said the firm may have been overwhelmed by litigation. In 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged five of the firm’s reps in its Pomona, Calif., branch with fraudulently selling unsuitable securities, primarily variable universal life policies. In 2010, the SEC took action against WSG for lack of supervision of the Pomona branch, ordering the firm to pay $200,000. In May 2010, the SEC charged two other WSG reps, based in Lakeland, Fla., accusing them of operating a $14.8 million Ponzi scheme.
The firm may also have been struggling to compete, “because the securities industry is all about scale,” Edde said. The more advisors you have, the lower a broker/dealer firm can charge clients for their services, he added.
Either way, there has been a lot of consolidation going on in the broker/dealer space, so the WSG/Transamerica transaction continues the trend.