On Craigslist: Hook Ups, Second-Hand Furniture and, Now, Broker-Dealers
Psst, wanna buy a broker-dealer?
James Gilbert has one to sell you for just $30,000, and you can read all about it on Craigslist.
In what may be a history-making debut for the online marketplace best known for dating hookups, rental ads and second-hand furniture sales, Craigslist is now marketing financial firms.
“PSAS, a FINRA and NASD Member since 1992, is COMPLETELY CLEAN, with a perfect and pristine 20+ year history and track record of no customer complaints and no compliance problems, ever!,” exclaims the ad for Sherman Oaks, California-based Pension Service Associates Securities that Gilbert posted Wednesday.
In an email, Gilbert, 67, explained that he now lives in Bangkok and is hanging up his spurs after a 33-year brokerage career that began at Merrill Lynch and culminated with his joining PSAS almost 25 years ago.
“Owning the BD is no longer important to me, and is just a hassle,” Gilbert wrote. “I want to retire from work, and the revs the BD generates are not adequate for me to keep running it.”
As might be expected, the Craigslist come-on emphasizes the brokerage’s most alluring assets.
“BD collects approximately $4,000-$6,000 annually in mutual fund trailers,” a highlighted box at the top of the notice advertises.
Securities and Exchange Commission officials have recently discussed restricting perpetual sales-commission trails and the Department of Labor’s impending conflict-of-interest restrictions on IRA rollover sales also may put so-called 12b-1 fees on the endangered revenue source, so Gilbert’s ad notes:
“[L]ines of business can easily be expanded to include private placements.”
The firm, which holds about $2 million in mutual fund IRA rollover and SEP IRA assets, services about 75 clients “who have all been with PSAS for a minimum of 12 years,” the notice says. It also promises a “comprehensive due diligence pack….with 10-years of filing, tax returns and certified audits for buyer’s review” to “qualified individuals who are licensed, have no compliance problems and are approved by Finra for Broker-Dealer ownership.”
Gilbert, who also runs a company called Pension Systems Corp. that offers 401(k) software to plan providers and financial advisors, is not holding his breath waiting for responses.
“The Craigslist is just a shot in the dark,” his email says.
He has tried this approach before. An ad on LinkedIn for the 25-year-old PSAS trumpets selling points similar to those on Craigslist, with one exception. The asking price there is for $85,000.