Financial advisers return to Securities America

Two vets say firm's difficulties weren't to blame for departure in '06

Jun 20, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

By Andrew Osterland

Two financial advisers who left independent broker-dealer Securities America Inc. in 2006 have returned to the firm.

Shannon Case and Mark Slattery, co-founders of CaseSlattery Wealth Partners, spent 11 years with Omaha, Neb.-based Securities America before moving their business to SII Investments Inc. in 2006. Their reasons for leaving the firm seven years ago had nothing to do with Securities America, according to Mr. Slattery.

“We didn't leave because we were unhappy. We always felt good about the firm,” he said. The decision was based on the firm's changed circumstances, Mr. Slattery explained. Two years into their relationship with Securities America, the two advisers agreed to run the investment department of America National Bank, which they did for nine years. When they decided to leave the bank and launch their own advisory firm, they decided they should change broker-dealers, as the bank had a number of other Securities America reps in-house by that time.

“They didn't want to lose us and we didn't want to leave, but when we separated from the bank, we felt we should switch broker-dealers, too,” said Mr. Slattery, who started his career with LPL Financial Holdings Inc. in 1991. His firm manages $130 million in client assets.

The return of the two prodigal advisers is an encouraging sign for Securities America, which suffered a near-death experience two years ago due to its aggressive selling of private placements that went bad. The firm was purchased by Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc. from its former parent, Ameriprise Financial Inc., in 2011.

Larry Papike, president of recruiting firm Cross-Search, said the perception of Securities America in the adviser community has improved dramatically.

“When Ameriprise abandoned them a couple of years ago, it scared everybody and they lost a lot of advisers,” said Mr. Papike, who was fielding 30 to 40 calls per week from advisers at the firm. “But the day Ladenburg bought them, the noise stopped.” He said the firm is now considered an attractive option for advisers.

Mr. Slattery, for one, said Securities America's investments in technology and its fee-based platforms, along with the fact that it too is based in Omaha, encouraged him to return to the broker-dealer. “We wouldn't have considered them a couple of years ago, but we were pulling for them,” he said. “They got swindled by someone running a Ponzi scheme.”

Despite what some recruiters consider a difficult environment for recruiting advisers, Securities America chief executive Jim Nagengast said his firm is now on a roll.

“We went through some challenging times, but we kept the management team together and we kept investing in our business, and we're now reaping some of the dividends of that hard work,” he said. “Our recruiting pipeline is full and we're off to a great start this year.”

At the end of the first quarter, Securities America had 1,729 advisers and managed $16 billion in client assets.

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