Robert Moore is back. And he's focused on REITs

Cetera's former CEO launches new fund but he won't be working full-time

Sep 18, 2019 @ 2:54 pm

By Bruce Kelly

After leaving as the CEO of Cetera Financial Group earlier this year for undisclosed health reasons, Robert "R.J." Moore has returned to the financial services industry.

In his latest venture, Mr. Moore has launched an investment management firm that will buy and hold real estate investment trusts.

Registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission just last month, the newly minted firm is called Mortgage REIT Investment Advisors.

Mr. Moore is the president of the firm and Andrew Weimer is the manager and chief compliance officer, according to the firm's Form ADV. It currently has no assets.

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In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Moore said that he was returning to work at far less than full throttle, but he enjoyed the financial services business too much to leave it entirely.

When asked about his health, he said: "My illness was not life threatening, but was and is such that my physician has advised that I should not resume work on a full-time basis. I respectfully decline to provide further commentary."

Mr. Moore stressed that the fund was a niche type of investment that was investing in U.S. agency backed mortgages — think Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — and not commercial mortgages. He also said the fund would likely be capped at about $500 million.

"The notion of the investment opportunity is taking advantage of tax laws that provide special treatment for these underlying securities," Mr. Moore said. "All the larger banks do it."

Mr. Weimer and he had worked together before at ABN AMRO North America, Mr. Moore said.

"Andy's going to do the heavy lifting as portfolio manager and primary person in business," Mr. Moore said. "I'm there to assist with strategy and work with investors, and I will be an investor. I'm not fully coming out of retirement."

The fund is for qualified investors, and Mr. Moore said he did intend to register it as a mutual fund.

The fund will charge an annual management fee of 0.50% of net asset value, paid quarterly, and an annual performance fee equal to 20% of the net dividend yield in excess of 10%, according to a filing with the SEC.

The company invests in "U.S. exchange-traded REITs that own predominantly residential mortgage assets that are of a high quality and are or would generally be eligible to be guaranteed by a U.S. Agency, Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," the company said on its website. "Our aim is to generate attractive current income dividend distributions that qualify for favorable federal income tax treatment while minimizing the risk of capital loss over a long-run time horizon."

It's been a tough year for Mr. Moore. A longtime senior executive in the independent broker-dealer industry who served as president of LPL Financial, he left Cetera in February as CEO due to health reasons.

Just last year, private equity firm Genstar Capital said it was buying a majority stake in Cetera Financial, a network of five broker-dealers with close to 8,000 financial advisers.

Mr. Moore had been CEO of Cetera since September 2016, taking over months after the firm emerged from bankruptcy.

"While it's not our policy to comment on current or past employees, we wish R.J. the best in health and in life," said Cetera spokeswoman Adrian Senior in an email.

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