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Cetera Poaches Top LPL Biz Development Exec

Michael Murray, who spent 16 years helping LPL become the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer, is leaving that firm to help implement Cetera’s next growth initiative.

Cetera Financial Group announced the launch of a new business development strategy, one that will rely heavily on data analytics, better targeting of recruits and a smoother, quicker transition process.

To implement it, Cetera Financial Group’s CEO Robert Moore has recruited some top talent himself, hiring Michael Murray away from rival LPL. Murray spent 16-years at LPL, most recently recruiting advisors to the platform as that firm’s SVP of Business Development.

During Murray’s tenure at LPL, the firm “had a lot of success in attracting advisors, and he was a strong contributor to that,” Moore said, who was formerly the president of LPL until leaving the firm in 2015. “He’s someone who has the values we’ve been searching for.”

Recently, LPL has been struggling with its own recruiting program in the wake of its acquisition of National Planning Holdings. “We were hearing from (NPH advisors) that we were just too big,” LPL’s CEO Dan Arnold recently said on a call with home office leaders. “I think… it’s just other words for really saying ‘You’re too big to deliver good personal service, and that’s your reputation out in the marketplace.’”

LPL recently bumped up its recruiting packages for advisors from a handful of targeted firms, including Cetera.

Cetera recruited 784 new advisors and some $80 million in new revenue in 2017. “We have great momentum,” Moore said. “We want to take that to the next level, and to do that, we are getting the right talent in the right seats. That’s what the appointment of Michael Murray is all about.”

Murray will report to Cetera’s chief marketing officer Mike Zuna, a digital marketing vet with tenure at consumer company Petco Animal Supplies and AFLAC, who joined the firm last September. “Michael’s natural penchant for focusing on data-driven business development will enable him to collaborate very effectively with our broader team to mobilize the latest strategies and tools to break down traditional barriers that separate marketing, business development and advisor support,” Zuna said. 

Murray will be charged with implementing what Moore called Cetera’s “transforming” business development strategy, which will include expanding the business development team and hiring new professional recruiters. He’ll also lead the firm’s “data-driven” recruitment strategy, which Moore says will leverage existing data to help the firm “pre-screen” potential advisors who would be most amenable to Cetera’s planning-focused platform, which should make the process more efficient and the transitions smoother.

For Moore, the move is clearly meant to capitalize on the momentum Cetera has gained under his leadership. He said the advisors they were recruiting were attracted to Cetera’s structure as a collection of six broker/dealers, each of which retain their own identity and boutique feel for the advisors on the platform, while still benefiting from Cetera’s scale.

“We don’t believe in a single structure. Advisors like that,” Moore said. “We don’t believe in being big for big’s sake. The trajectory we’re on, we want to be positioned for more growth. That’s what this hire means for us.”

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