A star financial adviser who courted controversy a year ago by making critical comments about the exclusive culture of Royal Alliance Associates Inc. has left that broker-dealer to join Sterne Agee Financial Services Inc., which is expanding its presence in the wealth management and independent broker-dealer industries.
Meg Green on Aug. 31 left Royal Alliance, part of the Advisor Group network owned by American International Group Inc., to join Sterne Agee. Ms. Green is perennially listed by Barron's magazine as one of America's top 100 women financial advisers and her firm, Meg Green & Associates Inc. of Miami, manages $650 million.
A Royal Alliance adviser for 28 years, Ms. Green last year made clear she was disenchanted with Advisor Group's plans to hold one joint conference for its three broker-dealers instead of conferences for each.
“You just saw it: AIG was moving towards merging the three broker-dealers into one,” she told the trade publication AdvisorOne. “But we don't want to swim in the public pool; we want to be with our own. We don't want to be the AIG Advisor Group; we want to be Royal Alliance. We're bigger and smarter and do more business than” FSC Securities Corp. and SagePoint Financial Inc., the other two broker-dealers in the network at the time, according to the trade publication.
In an interview Monday, Ms. Green said she had made those comments privately to a reporter and apologized for them later. “I was skewed,” she said. “I apologized for the rotten way it became a headline. I felt horrible about it later. It's not me.”
Gil Winreich, editor-in-chief of Research, which is published by the same company as the AdvisorOne website, disagreed with Ms. Green’s assessment.
“Meg Green did not make those comments 'privately' – it was all on the record,” Mr. Weinreich said in an email to InvestmentNews. “In fact, we have the entire interview recorded on tape. That’s why we stood by our story. She was not 'skewed' but rather hoisted herself on her own petard.”
As for leaving Royal Alliance, Ms. Green said the firm "has been stand-up.”
“They didn't want us to go. This was not their call.” She said that her firm had worked closely with Sterne Agee over the past eight months to build the new platform and likened the firm to the “new kid on the block.”
Advisor Group spokeswoman Linda Malamut said: “We wish Meg Green and her team the best. Advisor Group continues to grow and recruit talented advisors to our firms. We are absolutely committed to Royal Alliance, FSC and SagePoint Financial and their individual cultures, and are eager to welcome Woodbury Financial [Services Inc.] and their advisers when they join our organization.”
Ms. Green said that she had discussed the importance of firm culture with AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche and Jay Wintrob, executive vice president of domestic life and retirement services, but their concerns were elsewhere.
“I had meetings with Benmosche and Wintrob,” she said. “They didn't understand culture. They understand business. I was looking for culture, but it was dissipated” at the AIG broker-dealers, she said. “We outgrew them. Bigger is good for them, not for us.”
Sterne Agee, which offers trust services, research and investment banking, is the boutique-type of self-clearing broker-dealer for which she was looking, she said. “We're really the first ones on this part of [Sterne Agee's] platform.”