RIA Rising

TD Ameritrade's Dorsey On What Advisors Should Do First

Peter Dorsey, TD Ameritrade’s new managing director of institutional sales, has this tip for advisors: restrain the urge to tell potential clients what you know at the get-go.

“Start with asking questions,” says Dorsey, 40, who has worked in the RIA channel for 14 years, seven with TDA. “I have seen people in the past have an opportunity, and all they want to do is tell (clients) about the latest and greatest. If that’s not applicable to their business, it’s not going to get them far.

Peter Dorsey

“What they really want to do is start by understanding. And the only way you can do that is by asking questions and listening first.”

Dorsey’s perspective is honed from talking with hundreds of advisors each year. Formerly director of sales for TD’s Western region (the Rockies and everything west), he led a team of six. As the new managing director, he will oversee a staff of more than 100 and be responsible for practice management consulting, advisor recruitment, relationship management, and sales strategy nationally.

He’s taking over for Tom Nally, who was named president of TD Ameritrade Institutional this year. He worked for Nally in his prior role, and will continue to answer to him in the new one, an arrangement he says suits both of them. Nally’s background in trading and service complements Dorsey’s business development background, he says. “I defer to him on a lot of things, he defers to me on a lot of things,” Dorsey says.

In a statement, Nally praised Dorsey for having “a proven track record of leading successful teams” at the company.

Geographically, it’s not a big move—just 40 miles to offices in San Diego from his old space in Orange County. And don’t look for big strategic changes either, Dorsey adds. TDA drew 348 breakaway brokers last year, a 20 percent increase, and “the pipeline is as full as it’s ever been.

“Our strategy really is not going to change. Sometimes the best strategy is to not tinker with what’s working,” he says. He sees more growth in the area of “tuck-ins,” in which advisors leave large brokerages and join other practices rather than start their own practice.

Dorsey’s involvement with RIAs began at Fidelity Investments, where he worked for seven years in the Northeast before joining TDA. Dorsey, who holds Series 7, 24 and 63 licenses, also was a broker at Bear Stearns, and worked at State Street Bank and Trust.

Advisors need to distinguish their practice from the rest of the market, he says. “Everyone’s smart, everybody works hard, and there’s a lot of great platforms out there. In the industry, lines kind of blur in terms of what we have to offer compared to the next person. I tell people they need to look for ways to give them sustainable competitive advantages,” he says.

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