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$1.5B swap: Ameriprise, LPL Financial trade 2 teams in 2 days

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LPL Financial and Ameriprise Financial recruited two big teams in two days — from one another.

On Feb. 21, an independent team of four partners and five advisors, which managed $633 million in client assets at LPL, headed over to Ameriprise’s employee channel.

The next day, LPL grabbed an advisor trio managing $800 million in client assets from Ameriprise’s independent channel.

“They’re both very large firms … You’re going to see some movement between the two, just from sheer numbers,” says recruiter Michael Terrana.

The first team’s decision is fairly unusual. While hundreds of advisors have left wirehouses or broker-dealers to open their own practices since 2014, it’s rare to see independent advisors go back to the employee channel.

In 2018, at least 166 advisors left wirehouses or broker-dealers for the independent channel, according to recruitment data collected by Financial Planning. Only about 16 independent advisors chose to move to an employee channel.

Ameriprise's newest team, called UDB Financial, has four advisor partners, Jeffrey Draughon, Joseph Bollinger Jr., Michael Upton and Samuel Marino Jr. as well as five advisors, Brian Flynn, Stanley Bollinger, Crissy Shirley, John Lenahan and Lori Decker. The team operates out of Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Leesville, Louisiana. The partners had all spent time at Edward Jones before going independent with LPL, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

In a statement, Upton said the team had been seeking a platform that had tools that would improve practice efficiency and free up time with clients. He did not respond to a request for further comment.

“We took our time — years actually — in carefully evaluating firms,” Draughon said in the statement provided by Ameriprise. He added that the firm provides practice acquisition support and could help them navigate a succession plan.

Another potential motivator for the team’s move may have been money, says recruiter Terrana, who works with Ameriprise.

“The deal is significant on the employee side of Ameriprise,” he says. “I would probably put them as the second best deal in the industry right now.”

There could be other factors, too: If a team has robust staff and expenses, the difference in net payout per employee might be nominal, he says. Additionally, some advisors tire of overseeing day-to-day operations.

“An independent practice is like running a second business, so it could become tedious,” he says, noting all the responsibilities, including real estate, technology and compliance decisions.

The trio that joined LPL Financial from Ameriprise is located in Wall Township, New Jersey.

The team, Intellectual Capital Group, managed $800 million at its former firm, according to LPL, which noted that it had not independently verified the team’s asset count. The team includes advisors Michael Bonevento, James Costabile and Craig Laday.

The team did not provide a reason for their departure, and a representative of the firm who answered the phone said the team had no comment.

LPL’s platform may have offered the team a larger variety of products than they found at Ameriprise, says Terrana, who notes that the regional BD does not have agreements with all the annuity and insurance carriers LPL provides.

In addition to the team in New Jersey, advisor Breandan Kelly joined LPL two weeks ago from Wells Fargo in Fort Myers, Florida. Kelly manages $110 in client assets, according to LPL, which noted it had not independently verified this number.

LPL, Ameriprise and Wells Fargo declined or did not respond to request on the departures from their respective firms.

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