The E.F. Hutton name is back, again.
The one-time storied brokerage, which attempted a comeback three years ago, is now launching a web-based lead generation service called Gateway to connect consumers with independent advisors, as well as accountants, estate lawyers and insurance agents.
The revival is being spearheaded by a new management team, including Chairman Stanley Hutton Rumbough, the grandson of E.F. Hutton, CEO Christopher Daniels and CFO Lance Diamond.
In April 2012, a group of former E.F. Hutton executives, led by Frank Campanale, announced the return of the brokerage brand and a plan to start a boutique investment advisory firm. But plans were thrown into question when Campanale jumped ship to lead Lebenthal & Co.’s wealth management division. Efforts to launch a Canadian brokerage were also tabled, according to published reports.
But Daniels says the rest of the team has been working on ways to bring the brand back to the market over the last couple of years. They felt the greatest opportunity revolved around independent financial advisors and others in the wealth management space who have high client acquisition costs.
“The independent financial provider is facing a number of challenges that E.F. Hutton’s able to help with,” Daniels said. “Those challenges involve, to a large extent, marketing themselves and expanding their business.”
Lead generation services for financial advisors are not at all scarce, of course. But Daniels says Gateway's focus, beyond any brand equity the name E.F. Hutton may still have, is that they will offer consumers names of other professionals from a broader range of financial services.
“We’re very fortunate to have what I would consider a first mover advantage in this particular space because there is no one place to go that includes the whole spectrum of financial services,” Daniels said.
Daniels envisions the new E.F. Hutton to be a combination of the car service Uber, in that the company receives a portion of the revenues made from the connection between advisor and client, and Angie’s List, in that it vets the providers on the network, ensuring they have proper licenses and training.
For consumers, it's free. Financial professionals can post a profile for free, but they’ll pay for each client introduction. For a higher fee, E.F. Hutton says it will guarantee introductions to prospective clients.
Daniels says the firm currently has hundreds of providers on the site, but they expect that to grow with a marketing push aimed at both consumers and advisors. In consumer surveys, the brand had a 94 percent recognition level among people with more than $250,000 in investable assets, Daniels said.
“The culture of E.F. Hutton was always one that was very focused on innovation and client service,” Daniels said. “And I think that people continue to know the E.F. Hutton name for those things.”
Many ideas in the industry that are now taken for granted—performing due diligence on money managers, fee-based retail accounts, fund subadvisory services—were launched by E.F. Hutton back in the 1980s. The slogan “when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” became a cultural touchstone.
The firm hopes to acquire financial technology and marketing companies to help, Daniels said.
“There’s a lot more to come from E.F. Hutton, both in terms of different products and services we’re going to bring out to the market over the course of the next year and the ways we’re going to market and deliver those,” he said.
EFH Group, the parent company of E.F. Hutton Financial, was established in 2007 and went public in 2013 under the ticker HUTN, though it is thinly traded. EFH Group is now changing its name to EF Hutton America. In its recent filing with the SEC announcing the initiative, the company said it was not offering any financial products to consumers.