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Commonwealth grabs 12 NPH firms with $3 billion after LPL deal

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Commonwealth Financial Network has added more production through recruiting in 2017 than any year in the firm’s nearly four decades, benefiting from a massive acquisition by one of its rivals.

Lead advisors Dan Taylor, Bill Markovich, Andy Haskell and Andrew Cloose of North Dakota-based Invest Forward, which has $309 million in assets under management, joined Commonwealth, the independent broker-dealer said this week. Nine advisors make up Invest Forward, which is the wealth management unit of Bank Forward.

Commonwealth competitor LPL Financial purchased the assets of Invest Forward’s former BD, Investment Centers of America, and the three others owned by National Planning Holdings in August. Spanning 3,200 advisors, the acquisition could push LPL’s headcount beyond those of each wirehouse.

The purchase also opened the door to competitors eager to recruit from the incoming crop. Commonwealth has now added 12 practices with 29 advisors, $15.6 million in revenue and more than $3 billion in client assets from the four NPH firms since the deal, according to the No. 4 IBD.

“We’re going to have our record recruiting year this year and a big part of it came from advisors joining us from the four NPH firms, I think, in a flight to quality and community,” says Andrew Daniels, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company’s managing principal for business development.

“Independent financial advisors by nature don’t want to have their lives, their practices and their futures dictated for them,” he says, adding that Commonwealth’s recruiting is “certainly a quality not quantity game.”

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The Invest Forward advisors officially joined Commonwealth in October, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. A spokeswoman for National Planning Holdings and a spokesman for LPL declined to comment on their move.

LPL has started revealing its retention of large teams from National Planning after completing the first half of its onboarding process in early December. The No. 1 IBD this week released a list of seven firms with between $500 million and $999 million in client brokerage and advisory assets now in its ranks following the acquisition.

The list followed an earlier group of four offices of supervisory jurisdiction joining LPL from National Planning, each with more than $1 billion in client assets. LPL plans to provide more details about the first wave of the transition in coming weeks and in the firm's fourth-quarter earnings.

“We value each new relationship and are proud to have the opportunity to provide service and support to the many new advisors who have chosen to join LPL,” Bill Morrissey, the president of the firm’s business development division, said in a statement.

“As we welcome new advisors, we can leverage our scale to provide our advisors with the capabilities they need to stay competitive and be positioned for success today and into the future.”

Commonwealth appealed to NPH advisors as a smaller, private company, though, Daniels notes. The lead advisors at Invest Forward had each aligned with Investment Centers of America, the No. 42 IBD by revenue with 355 producing representatives, for four years or more, according to BrokerCheck.

Invest Forward’s bank parent, the former Security State Bank of North Dakota, launched the Grand Forks-based wealth management unit in 2012, according to the firm’s website. Prior to ICA, the four lead advisors worked for firms including Merrill Lynch and Raymond James, BrokerCheck shows.

Commonwealth has added around 125 advisors this year, a group Daniels says is more productive and more in number than the firm’s usual annual take of around 100 advisors. The firm’s 29 new ex-NPH advisors bring average production of $538,000 per year, the firm says.

Commonwealth’s revenue grew by 6% in 2016 to $1.07 billion, and Daniels has said it will add $30 million in production in the fourth quarter. The firm’s 12 NPH grabs represent the largest total announced by an LPL rival to date and a third of the 36 overall for all non-LPL firms since the acquisition.

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