The Most Misunderstood Broker Dealer in the Independent Space

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Mindy DiamondA conversation with Bill Williams, Executive Vice President, Ameriprise Franchise Group

Independent broker dealers are often a go-to landing spot for advisors who desire greater control and freedom in how they serve their clients and grow their businesses, yet welcome the addition of community, support and service. And it’s often these latter 3 components which serve as key differentiators—and have proven to be critical benefits as advisors navigate their clients and businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.

Yet in a landscape that offers over 100 different independent broker dealers (IBDs) to choose from, few have a history that can match that of Ameriprise. In over a century since its founding, the firm went through several acquisitions, multiple name changes and a variety of value propositions.

But in the last decade, the firm made some dramatic shifts in recruiting practices, including significantly increasing transition packages which, along with improvements in infrastructure, support, technology and marketing, have resulted in great success.

Today, Ameriprise has re-emerged and is stronger than ever, with a brand and business model that’s really resonating—evidenced by more than 10,000 financial advisors under its umbrella and annual revenue of more than $4.8 billion. And over the last several years it has consistently ranked as one of the top IBDs in the space.

Bill Williams, the executive vice president of the Ameriprise Franchise Group, joins the show to share some background on what’s changed at the firm and what’s coming down the pike, including:

  • The upswing in recruiting over the past several years—and what he sees as the key factors that are contributing to the firm’s success.
  • The ability to join as an employee in their wirehouse-style model or as an independent contractor—and how the value propositions differ for each division.
  • The advantages of their unique two-division system—and how their model compares to other IBDs, hybrid RIAs and supported independence.
  • The changing profile of advisors who choose Ameriprise—and how they are now attracting advisors with much larger books than in past years.
  • The impact on enterprise value for businesses under a broker dealer umbrella—and how their process, driven by “transparency, transferability and liquidity,” has translated into sales at “3-to-5X gross revenue.”

No doubt, it’s difficult to change perception, especially in an industry where the landscape has expanded so vastly in the last number of years. But Bill makes a great case for how Ameriprise has taken its brand and service offering upstream—and that move has paid off with an enormous surge in recruiting success.



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