Despite the coronavirus pandemic that is keeping some 99% of its employees working remotely, independent broker/dealer Advisor Group announced a series of high-level hires Monday, including a new president from LPL who will oversee the group’s nine separate brands.
Jamie Price, CEO of Advisor Group, said the positions had been in the works before the pandemic but the firm was not slowing down its plans despite the brutal hit to the markets and the economy.
“Obviously we are trying to support advisors more than ever,” he said. “Their value is coming home to roost. Every time I’ve seen a dislocation like this, advisors pick up market share.”
Advisor Group finalized its $1.3 billion acquisition of Ladenburg Thalmann in February, and now supports over 11,000 advisors and $430 billion in assets.
Gregory Cornick is joining Advisor Group as president of advice and wealth management, a new role that will oversee each of the independent broker/dealer brands inside the company, including FSC Securities Corp., Royal Alliance, SagePoint Financial and Woodbury Financial in the legacy Advisor Group, and Investacorp, KMS Financial Services, Securities America, Securities Service Network, and Triad Advisors from Ladenburg Thalmann.
In addition, Securities America’s head of branch office development, Gregg Johnson, is being promoted to executive vice president of recruiting and revenue acquisition, a new role that will oversee recruiting for all of the brands inside Advisor Group.
Matthew Schlueter was appointed president, products and platforms to oversee the firm’s investment banking services, Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management, its trust department through Premier Trust and Highland Capital Brokerage, the firm’s insurance brokerage business.
Price said the intention was to continue running the separate brands with a shared-service model, centralizing product development and back-office functions, while allowing the brands to retain their “advisor affinity” models.
Advisor Group, like every other financial services firm, has taken a hit as the economy was thrust into a standstill as governments grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Advisor Group’s debt and lowered its outlook for the firm in the wake of the market decline, which will lower revenue from asset-based fees, and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut, which will be a hit to revenue from cash spreads.
Price said “the bulk” of the firm’s debt was in floating rate notes, which would cushion some of the blow from lower market-based fees.
“We have plenty of capital and cash, and the largest portion of the debt is variable,” he said, saying the firm was going to continue to invest in the business, was actively recruiting advisors and would not rule out further acquisitions of small- to midsize broker/dealers who may not be able to weather the recent storm as well.
“Our (recruiting) pipeline is larger than it has ever been,” he said. “We have not taken our foot off the pedal. This is not going to define our strategy or where we are headed over the next several years. I think there will be more opportunities, not less.