Moving in a Pandemic: Cetera Broker Joins LPL, Merrill Team Join RIA
(Corrects headline to indicate that the Merrill team joined an RIA, rather than formed a new one.)
A 34-year independent brokerage veteran and a Merrill team, each managing about $100 million of client assets, changed their alliances in recent weeks, despite the operational and market obstacles created by the coronavirus crisis.
DeSantis, who worked in a chemistry lab before becoming a registered rep with Waddell & Reed in 1985, spent the bulk of his brokerage career with Main Street Management Company and Girard Securities before switching to Cetera in 2017, according to BrokerCheck.
Advisor mobility is understandably near a standstill because of work-at-home restrictions and market volatility emanating from the pandemic. But recruiters and industry executives have said that a small number of transitions that were near the finish line are being completed, with most centered among independent brokers who do not have to change offices or have to contend with competition for clients from office-mates.
Indianapolis-based brokers Phil Williams and Joshua Kammerer, however, have taken the latter risk. The pair, who were generating about $750,000 in revenue on $100 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch, last week moved to Kingsview Partners, an Oregon-based RIA with more than 30 outposts.
“You really can’t do client events, you really can’t be at face-to-face meetings with prospects,” said Williams, in explaining some of the hidden opportunities the crisis offers for zeroing in on existing clients. “We can really focus on getting our clients transitioned, getting them 100% set up, ready to go on the new platforms.”
Williams, to be sure, is comfortable with transience, having worked at six firms over his 11-year career—including Morgan Stanley and Raymond James before joining Merrill four years ago, according to BrokerCheck.
Williams and Kammerer, who spent the past nine years of his 16-year career with Merrill, are primed for working with an RIA because about 85% of their client assets were in discretionary fee-based accounts. About 15% of their book involved 401(k) plans, Williams said.
The team were somewhat frustrated with the “bureaucracy” of working at Bank of America-owned Merrill, said Williams. He and Kammerer evaluated ten firms, settling on Kingsview because of the transition support it offered and the operational finesse it showed them, he said.
“We had everything set up for us on day one, and we didn’t have to worry about any startup costs,” he said. “That’s…huge when you’re moving to the independent world.”
Williams began his brokerage career with CFD Investments in Kokomo, Ind., and also was affiliated briefly with LPL before shifting to Morgan Stanley in 2012. Kammerer began his brokerage career with Planco Financial Services, and also worked at Edward Jones in Glendale, Ariz. for four years before joining Merrill in 2010. Neither have disclosure marks on their records, according to their BrokerCheck histories.