What’s the current news? Has anyone used their practice merger support? How is the compliance?
Their practice merger help seems like sort of a gimmick to me. They loan you money to put a moderate down payment on a practice based on the value they think it's worth, using a third party partner. Don't get me wrong- they have the pros and cons- but don't bite on the "we'll help you buy a practice gimmick".
Where your best fit will be is based on what type of business you do, where you are currently at (some firms, like mine, have agreements with other firms not to put a TRO on you or sue you), what your motivations to move are, etc.
We've been doing enough due diligence over the last 4 months that I can make some suggestions based on your business (though some will call be a bit biased because we chose Wachovia FiNet), I do know a good bit about LPL and Raymond James- and know some about First Allied as they met up with their National Sales guy at a conference last year.
Most of the indy firms currently use on firm out of Portland, OR to broker the deals with and get valuations from. I happen to be pretty good friends with the CEO, David Grau Sr of fptransitions.com. First Allied uses them as well. Like most of us, First Allied will loan a prospective buyer some money to purchase a book it it's a fit and makes sense. Others do it as well.
I have a good deal of respect for some of the leadership at First Allied and they may be a good fit for some, and a bad fit for others. Compliance is compliance- ie. what the NASD auditors want to see, First Allied will conform to- just like the rest. Don't just look at one- look a several.
I think the kink in the armor at First Allied is not having the BEST to offer in terms of platform-