Cetera Financial Group, and its private equity parent company Genstar, announced that it has completed its acquisition of the assets within the independent financial planning channel of Voya Financial Advisors, first announced in February. The firm has retained more than 90% of the 900 Voya financial advisors and more than 93% of the assets under administration. The firm is not taking a phased approach, but rather all those advisors will officially be converted to Cetera's platform as of Thursday.
“It solidifies us as a major player in the acquisition space, specifically around insurance broker/dealers, this being the second significant [one] since 2018,” said Tom Taylor, chief sales and growth officer for Cetera Financial Group. “It really puts us on the map overall in the profession as an affiliation opportunity of choice. Advisors are attracted by our growth offering and our focus on their business, and it’s really starting to play out in the acquisitions and recruiting opportunities that we’re having as an organization.”
WealthManagement.com was the first to report the deal was imminent in early February.
The Voya advisors will join Cetera Advisor Networks, the firm’s regional director model, as the broker/dealer’s largest enterprise, with approximately $37 billion in assets. That business will be rebranded Cetera Wealth Partners, and VFA President Tom Halloran will serve as president.
Cetera has added 130 employees to support the additional advisors, including over 100 employees from Voya. That includes Halloran’s field-facing sales and growth team, which have the relationships with the advisors.
While a small number of client accounts had to repapered, most advisors did not have to repaper client accounts. Both firms clear through Pershing.
The firm did provide incentive packages to a number of advisors, but Taylor would not provide details; those packages were customized per advisor.
The deal marks Cetera’s third acquisition of 2021, following its acquisitions of BAR Financial, one of its own super offices of supervisory jurisdiction (OSJ) in January and MAGIS Financial Partners, a Horsham, Pa.–based hybrid RIA, in March.
“This has been more of a reunion than an acquisition,” Halloran said. “We were part of the same organization several years ago.”
Cetera used to be owned by ING Group, Voya’s former parent company. ING sold its three IBDs, Financial Network Investment Corp. (rebranded Cetera Advisor Networks), Multi-Financial Securities (rebranded Cetera Advisors) and PrimeVest Financial Services (rebranded Cetera Financial Institutions), to Lightyear Capital in 2009 for an undisclosed amount. Lightyear rebranded the network under the Cetera name in 2010.
“Even as we did road shows across the country, I—having been with the firm in the ING years—knew some of the advisors that are at Voya,” Taylor said. “A lot of our back-office systems originated from the same system. Our commission system is the same platform; we both use Pershing; we both use the same advisor workstation base technology.”
Cetera has a history of acquiring insurance-owned broker/dealers. At the beginning of 2012, the firm acquired Genworth’s broker/dealer, Genworth Financial Investment Services, which was later renamed Cetera Financial Specialists. In 2013, MetLife sold its IBDs Walnut Street Securities and Tower Square Securities to Cetera. Most recently, Cetera acquired the assets of Foresters Financial’s brokerage and advisory business, another insurance-based firm.