Independent broker/dealer First Allied is experiencing the fruit of its acquisition by Nicholas Schorsch’s RCS Capital (RCAP), which was announced last June, said First Allied CEO Adam Antoniades. The b/d launched a new succession planning program a few months ago, and this week during its national conference it launched new business consultant and retirement services as well as an upgrade to its fee-based platform.
“RCAP has a liberating effect on broker/dealers like ours,” said Antoniades, who was recently appointed president of Cetera Financial Group, also acquired by Schorsch. “Many of these launches that you’re seeing here are really the fruit of an increased investment by RCAP.”
Despite taking on the new role with Cetera, Antoniades said he is still engaged with First Allied on a strategic basis, and the b/d continues to be managed independently of RCAP. First Allied has about $27 billion and 795 advisors.
“As we look forward—and specifically at the opportunities for advice in the future, and some of the challenges and opportunities that are offered to us in our specific circumstances now as part of a much greater network—we feel as though it’s a time for us to put our foot on the gas.”
Under the new succession planning program, the firm will measure advisors’ progress and finance a lot of the transactions that are a byproduct of these succession deals.
“I think there are something like 162 steps that an advisor must go through to effectively ensure that they’re going to have success in the implementation of that succession plan,” Antoniades said. “Ultimately, being able to support them in each of those steps is really what that platform’s all about.”
The firm’s new business consulting and practice management portal, called Pentameter, will help advisors assess the development of their business and identify gaps with the goal of improving their business along those lines. The assessment will be based on business development, operational efficiency, human capital, business management and succession planning. The tool then directs advisors to the department within First Allied that can help them address any issues, such as the advisor marketing system or the succession planning and business acquisition center.
“Historically, broker/dealers addressed practice management by putting several tools and capabilities out there for advisors to leverage,” Antoniades said. “But that left it very difficult for advisors to understand how each of these tools may be used inside of their practice. And you end up essentially delivering a one-size-fits-all type tool or capability. And all too often that’s the challenge that advisors have—there’s no two practices that are the same.”
The firm is also rolling out Guided Retirement Solutions, a retirement services platform aimed at helping advisors serve 401(k) clients. The space has become highly specialized and increasingly challenged by regulation, Antoniades said. The new offering will help with those, and also focus on making sure fiduciary engagement is properly administered and controlled.
RCAP's investment has also gone toward an upgrade of the firm’s fee-based platform, Portfolio Solutions. The upgrade will include a portfolio construction tool that allows advisors to look not only at the firm’s fee-based products on the platform, but also at variable products, alternative investments and products registered under the Securities Act of 1933.
“Alternative investments are beginning to play an increasingly larger part in the construction of a portfolio, especially in the retirement planning world.”