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Ten to Watch
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Ten to Watch in 2022: Kristen Kimmell

Kristen Kimmell is Executive Vice President, Business Development, Advisor Group

Inertia can be a powerful force, especially in wealth management. Moving a book of business to a new broker/dealer can take several months, involve thousands of forms and repapering, and require uncomfortable conversations with clients to convince them to bring their accounts over. It’s sometimes easier just to stay in place.

But firms that digitize the paperwork, reduce the time it takes to make a move and take many of those tasks off the advisor’s plate may have more success at convincing a team to join and be better at keeping the clients when they do.  

That’s where Kristen Kimmell, Advisor Group’s new head of business development, comes in. Kimmell spent 25 years at RBC Wealth Management U.S., most recently as head of advisor recruiting and field marketing. She’s been tasked with creating a more seamless onboarding experience for FAs moving to Advisor Group, a network of six independent broker/dealers. 


“Transitions can be disruptive,” she said. “It takes away time for them to be servicing their clients. So how do we make sure that that transition can be as efficient and as quick as possible so that they can stay focused on what they do best—serving their clients?”

She reports to Greg Cornick, president, advice and wealth management at Advisor Group, who said he recruited Kimmell as the firm launched a series of digital recruitment and onboarding initiatives a year ago and needed someone with experience to lead it. With the pandemic halting in-person meetings, the firm has been improving its advisor technology focused on corporate communication and interactions. 

When Kimmell took on the role as RBC’s head recruiter in 2019, she was not anticipating a viral pandemic. Yet, under her leadership, RBC was among the big winners in the war for talent, with the firm experiencing its strongest recruitment quarters in its history. She helped the brokerage quickly pivot to a digital process with online meetings and digital “tours” of the home office. 

“We didn’t have to pause or sacrifice anything along the way,” she said. “At any point in time, the advisors who are looking to transition need to make the right decisions for their clients, and we stayed true to that message.”

Advisor Group recently announced its Express Onboarding initiative to expedite the process through investments in paperless technology and automation, including the transition of assets and licenses. 

“We’ve eliminated a significant amount of steps and work,” Cornick said.

Her hire was also part of a broader push to recruit advisors outside the independent channel, widening the pool to include ensemble and enterprise firms, bank advisors, wirehouse breakaways and hybrids. 

Kimmell has also been working on integrating the transition teams with the marketing and engagement teams. When Susan Theder, Advisor Group’s chief marketing officer, recently left for FMG Suite, Kimmell absorbed some of her responsibilities, as did Erinn Ford, executive vice president of advisor engagement.

Advisor Group significantly expanded its ranks after the acquisition of Ladenburg Thalmann in February 2020, and Kimmell says the job is to continue that trajectory.

“I think we have a challenge as an industry to use the momentum of people who are looking to pivot careers to attract more people from financial services, whether in the financial professional role or supporting financial professional. I think that is a big challenge, and I think it would be a missed opportunity if we don’t do that over the course of the next 12 months.” 

TAGS: Industry
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