Cetera Financial Group eliminating Summit as a separate broker-dealer

Firm, offices and 450 advisers will become part of the Cetera Advisor Networks B-D

Jul 12, 2019 @ 1:42 pm

By Bruce Kelly

One of Cetera Financial Group's six broker-dealers, Summit Brokerage Services Inc., is being absorbed into another of the firm's B-Ds.

Summit has $17.5 billion in client assets. Its 450 advisers and its branch offices will continue to operate under the Summit name but they will be part of Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Financial's largest B-D.

At the end of 2018, Cetera Advisor Networks had $80.7 billion in client assets. After the transition, it will have 3,500 brokers and advisers and 41 large regional branches or groups.

Cetera Financial Group continues its transformation after Genstar Capital, a private equity manager, bought it last summer for $1.7 billion.

Earlier this year, Cetera Financial Group CEO Robert Moore said he was stepping down due to health reasons. He was replaced by an interim CEO, the chairman of the firm's board, Ben Brigeman, who is a member of the strategic advisory board of Genstar Capital.

When large networks of brokerage firms merge or consolidate one firm into another, it is widely considered a way to cut costs, particularly those associated with compliance and technology.

In interviews Friday morning, executives at Cetera Financial Group insisted this was not the reason for moving the advisers from Summit to Cetera Advisor Networks.

Marshall Leeds, the president and CEO of Summit, which is based in Boca Raton, Fla., said that there were no plans for layoffs or to eliminate positions. He said the move had less to do with cost savings and more to do with operational efficiencies to better serve advisers and clients.

In the retail securities industry for almost 40 years, Mr. Leeds will continue to lead Summit as president. The message from senior management at Cetera Financial Group is "build, build, build," he said. "The focus is service to advisers, recruiting and organic growth. I live and breathe this business. I have no intention to retire."

The other four broker-dealers under the Cetera Financial umbrella are: Cetera Advisors, Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists and First Allied Securities.

Cetera Advisors and First Allied are the most similar in that they work with traditional wealth management financial advisers, noted Tom Taylor, president of Cetera Advisor Networks. While there has recently been some consolidation of management and support teams, there are no plans to do any further consolidation within the Cetera network, Mr. Taylor said.

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