Over Chris Flint’s 20-year career in financial services, he’s gained a reputation as a hands-on recruiter for independent broker/dealers, building up the advisor ranks rep by rep, office by office.
That doesn’t always lead to the chief executive suite at a firm, as those spots are often taken by figures removed from the daily life of the brokers—perhaps corporate types with backgrounds in management, compliance or finance.
But for Flint, the on-the-ground work paid off. Last month he was tapped as president and chief executive officer for ProEquities, a relatively sleepy Birmingham, Ala.-based IBD with ambitions to grow beyond its current roster of around 1,000 reps.
Why now? ProEquities’ reputation is a steady firm treading water in terms of reps, but with a corporate culture steeped in southern manners and a more laid-back attitude about pushing proprietary products on reps than others in the space.
"Steady" is itself an accomplishment, given the business pressures on the IBD model, particularly among smaller firms. But to grow, IBDs will have to offer more incentives to advisors in terms of technology, financial planning, and practice management advice. That’s been a hard case to make for an insurance-owned firm, which keeps a steady eye on costs and has, in the past, found fewer reasons to own the risks associated with IBDs.
But now ProEquities, and its parent company Protective Life Corp., are flush. The parent was acquired last year by Japanese insurance firm Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Co. for $5.7 billion. “We have ambitious plans,” Protective Life Corp. CEO John D. Johns told Bloomberg at the time. “And we see support from Dai-Ichi only upping our game.”
That may have something to do with how they convinced Flint to leave the larger Lincoln Financial Network, where he worked since 2006 heading up recruitment. There, he oversaw consecutive years of advisor growth—currently up to almost 8,500 reps—outpacing the growth of many other independent brokerages, and was recently promoted to president of Lincoln Financial Services.
“He’ll be like a kid in the candy store, making improvements to technology, wealth management, business management—all the things reps look for for better service,” says recruiter Jonathan Henschen. “The firms that tend to grow have presidents that are tied in to the recruiting and will get on the phone with better producers. Reps are flattered by that.”
The move to ProEquities also brings Flint back to his college town of Birmingham, after working for Philadelphia-based Lincoln. Prior to Lincoln, Flint was senior vice president in charge of branch office development for Securities America and managing principal of Securities America Wealth Management Group. He started at Securities America in 1996 as a trader and recruiter.
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