Atria Wealth Solutions announced plans Thursday to acquire Western International Securities, a Pasadena, Calif.-based independent broker/dealer with over 400 advisors and $13 billion in client assets under administration. The deal, expected to close in the first quarter 2020, would bring Atria’s total network to nearly 2,500 advisors and $80 billion in assets.
Western International Securities would be Atria’s fifth IBD acquisition since it was launched in August 2017 by former Morgan Stanley executive Doug Ketterer.
He initially launched into the financial institutions channel with the acquisition of sister b/ds CUSO Financial Services and Sorrento Pacific Financial, both based in San Diego. They have a combined $30 billion in assets under administration and 500 advisors at banks and credit unions. Then, Atria acquired Cadaret, Grant & Co., a Syracuse, N.Y.-based IBD with about 900 advisors and more than $23 billion in assets under administration. That deal, part of Atria’s strategy to do business in multiple advisor channels, brought the firm into the independent advisor space. And earlier this year, the firm bought NEXT Financial Group, a Houston-based IBD with about 500 advisors.
Western International Securities provides a “flexible affiliation model,” Atria said in a statement. Advisors can join as independents or use its turnkey offering, where they’ll get help finding office space, choosing technology and hiring support staff.
“With various branch operating models across the nation, the WIS acquisition will advance Atria’s strategic growth plans. Atria is committed to seeking out solutions that meet client demands and enhance an advisor’s competitive advantage,” the firm said.
“They’ll help out with those things if a rep coming from a wirehouse doesn’t feel very entrepreneurial,” said Jonathan Henschen, president of the recruiting firm Henschen & Associates in Marine on St. Croix, Minn. “We’ve seen this model being tried recently, like with Kestra, for instance. Are the wirehouse reps beating the doors down for this model? No, but it is something that firms like to have as one of the spokes in their wheel in their selection of offerings.”
Henschen added that Western International Securities does more stock, bond, alternatives and structured products business, which is a higher-risk model for Atria than the other b/ds it has acquired.
Western International Securities clears through Fidelity, Pershing and Wedbush Securities.
Atria, backed by private equity shop Lee Equity Partners, was created with the idea of building a new kind of IBD model—not on indiscriminate acquisitions of existing registrations, but by carefully building a layer of support for independent advisors on top of a few well-chosen outposts for future acquisitions. Ketterer was named one of WealthManagement.com′s Ten to Watch in 2018.