Securities America is beefing up its efforts to attract the wealth management business of banks and credit unions to its brokerage and advisory platform.

Long the laggard among third-party broker dealers serving financial institutions, the firm recruited the leader of independent RIA firm Priority Financial Group to assume a newly created role as president of the firm's financial institutions division.

Jim Norwood will develop and oversee the implementation of strategies aimed at signing up new banks and credit unions and retaining those it already has as clients, the firm announced on Thursday.

He will report to Gregg Johnson, executive vice president of branch office development and acquisitions at Securities America.

Securities America played up Norwood's 30-year career working with banks and credit unions in an executive leadership capacity and his role in building a significant financial institutions division at LPL.

Jim Norwood joined Securities America to lead the firm's financial institutions division. He was previously president of independent RIA firm Priority Financial Group.
Jim Norwood will develop strategies aimed at signing up new banks and credit unions and retaining those it already has as clients.

"There's no one better for the position than Jim Norwood," Johnson said in a statement. "He's well known and highly respected. He brings nearly three decades of effective leadership in the financial services industry."

Prior to joining Priority Financial Group as an executive vice president in October 2014, Norwood served as a senior vice president at LPL for almost 19 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"Securities America just made a strong financial institutions division even better," Mike Prior, the CEO of Priority Financial Group, said in a statement.

Norwood's appointment follows the firm's recent engagement as broker-dealer for Priority Financial Group after a seven-year run with LPL.

Securities America created the new role to deepen its leadership bench and to signal its commitment to the highly competitive bank and credit union space, according to Johnson.

"It is also a reflection of the successful growth and expansion we've experienced so far with our division and our desire to provide it with the best possible day-to-day leadership in terms of experience, strategy and vision," Johnson said.

While Securities America touted its growth, it declined to say how many net new institutions it recruited this year or how much it has in total client assets.

At the end of the 2015, it served 117 financial institutions with roughly $4 billion in AUM, according to Kehrer Bielan's most recent report on the top 10 third-party broker dealers or "third-party marketing firms" in the bank channel.

That put it in the ninth spot among the top 10 in terms of the number of financial institutions and in the last spot in terms of AUM, according to the report.

At the end of 2015, it employed 176 financial consultants, ranking ninth among its rivals, according to Kehrer Bielan data.

The firm disclosed that it currently serves 139 financial institutions, up an impressive 18.8% from 2015.

"We're looking forward to continued growth," Johnson said. "Jim will add to the momentum that Securities America has achieved."