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The Continuity Private Wealth team (L-R): Lisa Baltz, James “Jamie” P. Debuque, Wendy Fratrik and Timothy M. Baltz

$1B Pennsylvania Team Leaves Merrill for LPL Financial

Continuity Private Wealth represents the 40th team to join through LPL’s Strategic Wealth Services.

A pair of Doylestown, Pa.-based advisors have left Merrill Lynch to launch their own independent practice with LPL Financial’s Strategic Wealth Services, the independent broker/dealer’s premium affiliation model that went live in April 2020. James “Jamie” P. Debuque and Timothy M. Baltz, with $1 billion in assets under management, have created Continuity Private Wealth.

The team represents the 40th to join LPL’s SWS model, designed for wirehouse and regional advisors looking to create an independent business while still getting the back-office support typical in the employee model.

Debuque and Baltz have spent the last 15 years building out a private wealth team providing estate and tax planning and investments to affluent clients. They’re joined by COO Wendy Fratrik, Client Relationship Manager Nicole Ferrara and Wealth Management Associate Lisa Baltz.

The team was attracted to LPL’s SWS model for the autonomy as well as the firm’s high-net-worth services. LPL currently has $130 billion in high-net-worth assets and offers specialized resources to help with advanced estate and philanthropy planning, income tax strategy, trustee services, alternative investments, banking and lending and complex life insurance planning.

LPL’s SWS offering was created for advisors with over $200 million in AUM coming from wirehouses or regional full-service firms. The business framework gives these advisors a client service model meant to replicate the kind of business support many got at a full-service firm. That includes transition advice, assistance onboarding clients, securing real estate, installing technology and setting up compliance and marketing programs.

“By making this move, we now have the freedom to follow a fiduciary standard for our clients without corporate influence,” Debuque said in a statement. “We have access to more investment selections, robust financial planning software and a group of specialists who will help us create differentiated experiences for clients.”

LPL has been on a recruiting and acquisition tear this year. Earlier this month, the firm announced plans to acquire Atria Wealth Solutions, an independent b/d network with about $100 billion in assets across 2,400 advisors and 150 banks and credit unions.

Last week, the firm struck a deal with Wintrust Financial Corp., a financial services holding company with a stable of chartered banks in the Midwest, to transition the entirety of Wintrust's $13 billion AUM wealth management business, Wintrust Investments, and about 17% of the private client business at subsidiary RIA Great Lakes Advisors, representing $3 billion in assets, to LPL’s Institution Services platform. Both businesses were previously affiliated with Wells Fargo. 

The firm has also benefited from the consolidation of Osaic, another major independent broker/dealer network. LPL recently added Cubby Bice, a North Carolina-based advisor with about $130 million, from Osaic. Bice said he left because of the “untenable” situation at Osaic, alleging the firm prioritized scaling up while neglecting the back office needs of advisors. The Wisconsin-based Equity Design Group was also affiliated with SagePoint and Osaic before announcing it would move to LPL earlier this month. The team cited Osaic’s consolidation as a primary reason, with co-founder Jason Hohenstein admitting the rebrand added a “significant layer of confusion” for clients.

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