Regions back in securities business

By Bruce Kelly

Nov 18, 2012 @ 12:01 am (Updated 9:48 am) EST

After the somewhat tumultuous sale of its broker-dealer this year, Regions Financial Corp. has begun to rebuild its presence in the securities business.

The company last Thursday announced a deal with Cetera Financial Group Inc. under which one of Cetera's independent broker-dealers will provide investment services for Regions in 16 states.

The deal is significant for both Regions and Cetera.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based banking company, which has a large footprint in the Southeast, sold its brokerage subsidiary, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., to Raymond James Financial Inc. in April. A Cetera subsidiary, PrimeVest Financial Services Inc., directly competes with leading broker-dealers such as LPL Financial LLC and Raymond James in placing independent-contractor registered representatives in bank branches.

The deal can be traced to the financial crisis of 2008. Regions received a $3.5 billion loan in 2008 as part of the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program. It was able to repay the TARP money this year after selling Morgan Keegan to Raymond James for $930 million.

Cetera was created after ING Groep NV, shedding non-core businesses in the wake of the financial meltdown, sold its ING Advisors Network Inc. to private-equity firm Lightyear Capital LLC in 2010.

BANK BRANCHES

Customers at Regions bank branches will have access to a full range of financial advisory services, including managed accounts, mutual funds, annuities, and insurance and retirement planning, the companies said in a statement.

Regions will begin placing brokers in bank branches next year and will begin looking for financial advisers to fill those positions over the next few weeks. Interested reps should check PrimeVest's career opportunities website in the coming weeks for information.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our dedicated focus on financial institutions with the impressive scale and expertise at Regions,” said Catherine Bonneau, PrimeVest's president and chief executive. “We are looking forward to building a great program together.”

PrimeVest is a self-clearing broker-dealer and registered investment adviser that works with 500 banks and credit unions. On Dec. 1, it will change its name to Cetera Financial Institutions.

Regions Financial has $122 billion in customer assets.

bkelly@investmentnews.com Twitter: @bdnewsguy

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