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Cetera OSJ nears $1B in client assets on succession-fueled growth

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Succession planning can be a stress point for financial advisors, but one Cetera Advisors group has topped $900 million in client assets by finding a way to capitalize on it.

Wilde Wealth Management expanded to five offices with 13 advisors after adding teams from Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network and JPMorgan Chase. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based firm sees recruiting opportunities in succession plans, says managing director Trevor Wilde.

Wilde’s father launched their firm as an insurance agency before transitioning to full wealth management in the late 90s. Using Cetera’s technology platform on the corporate RIA, the group aims to serve a wave of tenured advisors set to retire in coming years. With $920 million in client assets, Wilde's firm is one of the largest advisor enterprises in Arizona.

“We're really looking for two ends of the advisor world,” Wilde says, defining the mix of recruits and prospective targets as “advisors who haven't been able to develop a succession plan” and “a talented pool of younger advisors to help fill those voids.”

Advisors Jeff Anthony and Scott Aitken left Chase to affiliate with the Cetera independent broker-dealer at their Tempe-based practice, which has $247 million in client assets. They moved on May 9 after nearly a decade each with the firm, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Representatives for JPMorgan didn’t respond to a request for comment on their exit.

Anthony and Aitken operate under the Wilde brand, which also added new entrant advisor Michael Obenauf at the Scottsdale headquarters. A new office in Tucson composed of Jim Stark’s JRS Wealth Management and Hallmark Financial will keep the names of their existing practices.

Stark’s team has $122 million in client assets, and the 29-year veteran of FiNet, UBS and Merrill exited from Wells Fargo’s independent channel to align with Cetera Advisors on April 30, BrokerCheck shows. Wilde has set up a succession plan for the ex-FiNet practice.

Representatives for Wells Fargo FiNet declined to comment on the team's departure.

Clients of Wilde’s firm who serve on an advisory board came up with the idea for it to launch a charitable arm called Wilde for Arizona about two years ago. About 80 clients and staff volunteered last weekend at the worldwide hunger nonprofit Feed My Starving Children.

Wilde says he's always reviewing the increasing options of hybrid RIAs or other affiliation models. Technology enhancements have yielded dramatic changes over his 15 years in the industry and over the past couple of years at Cetera Advisors, he says.

“We could not replicate the investment that they're making in technology,” Wilde says. “If they lost their focus on supporting the independent advisor, I think our choice would be different. The investments that they're making in supporting us as independent advisors have never been stronger.”

Another Cetera Financial Group office of supervisory jurisdiction — or “region” as they’re often referred to within the larger network of six firms with 7,450 advisors — also unveiled a recruiting grab: Ron Carson’s Carson Partners added a father-son team with $250 million in client assets.

Carson’s hybrid RIA and OSJ has surpassed $10 billion in client assets as one of the largest regions in the Cetera network. Advisors Steve and Eric Ford chose Carson over eight BD or RIA aggregator suitors.

They brought Indianapolis-based WealthCare Partners to Cetera Advisor Networks and Carson’s RIA from the Atria Wealth Solutions subsidiary Cadaret, Grant on June 17, according to the SEC IAPD database. The elder Ford had spent 19 years with the firm.

Carson “not only equipped us with more robust technology but also provided an expanded team with specialized knowledge, making our team more efficient and better able to serve our clients needs,” Eric Ford, CEO of the practice, said in a statement.

Representatives for Cadaret, Grant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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