Recruitment Roundup: SageView, Equitable, Sequoia, Fidelity And More

Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Kestra Recruits $1.6 Billion In Q2, Equitable Recruits 4 Advisors, Sequoia To Acquire Special Needs-Focused Affinia, Fidelity M&A Report Reveals Record-Breaking July, SEIA’s In-House Broker-Dealer Set To Go Live, Kingswood U.S. Expands Investment Banking Leadership And Randy Long Is Our Newest Recruiter Of The Month

This edition of the Weekly Recruitment Roundup features our newest Recruiter Of The Month. We speak with Randy Long, Founder & Managing Principal and, effective Sept. 1, Chairman at SageView Advisory Group, about how the appointment of John Longley as the new CEO impacts SageView’s recruitment goals.

This week’s deals also include Kestra Financial recruiting 23 professionals with over $1.6 billion in assets under management (AUM), Equitable recruiting four financial advisors who collectively oversee $360 million in AUM, $16 billion AUM Sequoia Financial Group agreeing to acquire Affinia Financial Group, Fidelity’s M&A report revealing that RIAs experienced a record-breaking July, SEIA planning to turn its in-house broker-dealer live for advisors on Sept. 1 and Kingswood U.S. expanding the leadership of its investment banking division with the hire of Kevin Ernst as a Managing Director.

Advisor Transactions

1. Kestra Recruits 23 Professionals With Over $1.6 Billion In AUM During Q2 2023

Daniel Schwamb, EVP, Business Development, Kestra Financial

Kestra Financial recruited 23 financial professionals and over $1.6 billion in AUM in the second quarter, bringing the total recruitments during the first half of 2023 to 49 financial professionals collectively managing over $4.6 billion in AUM.

Second quarter recruits include Monisha Potter of Westport, Massachusetts-based Financial Planning Alternatives; Lawrance Johnson of Vallejo, California-based Black Diamond Financial; David Bayarena of Victoria, Texas-based Kaizen Wealth Planning; as well as Kate Medeiros and Morgan Smith of Hanover, New Hampshire-based Torch Family Capital.

“Our value proposition and strength of partnership continue to resonate with successful financial professionals in the marketplace,” said Daniel Schwamb, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Kestra Financial. “We anticipate sustained momentum in the second half of 2023, a true testament to our dedication to empowering the success of our financial professionals and providing the necessary resources to evolve, reinvent and innovate their businesses while enabling their growth and the ability to provide superior client service.”

2. Equitable Recruits 4 Advisors With Over $360 Million In Combined AUM

John Lefferts, Head of Business Development, Equitable Advisors

Equitable Advisors, part of the wealth management segment of the insurance and benefits services provider Equitable, recruited four financial advisors with over $360 million in combined AUM. Its wealth management segment has $80.4 billion in assets under administration and approximately 4,100 financial professionals nationwide.

Ryan Shea joined the Atlantic Liberty branch from Merrill Lynch, where he managed $137 million. Seong “Sean” Hahn joined the Greater New York branch from PNC Investments, where he managed $109 million. Ejiro “EJ” Okuma joined the Georgia Alabama branch from Edward Jones, where he managed $70 million. And Matthew Kooperman joined the Illinois branch from Ameriprise Financial, where he managed $45 million.

“As we grow our wealth management business, we’re focused on recruiting top-tier experienced advisors who share our commitment to helping clients achieve their financial goals,” said John Lefferts, Head of Business Development at Equitable Advisors. “We are proud to welcome these advisors who exemplify the high caliber of talent we continue to attract.”

Mergers & Acquisitions

3. $16 Billion Sequoia Agrees To Acquire Special Needs-Focused Affinia

Tom Haught, Founder and CEO, Sequoia Financial Group

Akron, Ohio-based Sequoia Financial Group, which has nearly $16 billion in AUM, agreed to acquire Burlington, Massachusetts-based Affinia Financial Group, whose team of 10 professionals has approximately $418 million in AUM and runs a practice focused on special needs financial planning.

Sequoia provides wealth and asset management, estate and retirement planning, fiduciary consulting and family wealth for clients ranging from individuals to family offices. In July, Sequoia agreed to acquire Cleveland-based Cirrus Wealth Management, which employs 12 professionals and has $387 million in AUM.

“Affinia’s work with families who have members with special needs is an important addition to our firm,” said Tom Haught, Founder and CEO of Sequoia. “It supports Sequoia’s ‘built for you’ strategy, which equips our advisors with the resources they need to have a deep and personal effect on our clients’ lives.”

4. Fidelity M&A Report Shows Best July On Record, With 46% More RIA Deals YoY

The Fidelity Wealth Management M&A Transaction Report found that last month was the most active July on record for dealmaking among RIAs and independent broker-dealers, in terms of the number of transactions and purchased assets. For RIAs, July 2023 had 19% more transactions and 32% more in purchased assets than June 2023, as well as 46% more transactions and 43% more in purchased assets than July 2022.

RIA M&A goes into orbit

Last month, a $6.5 billion broker-dealer transaction and 19 RIA deals totaling $29.6 billion were announced, according to the report. Although the majority of deals had private equity backing, strategic acquirers executed 82% of purchased assets – with RIAs acquiring adjacent services such as tax planning and accounting. For the year through July, there were 22 first-time buyers, four of which acted in July.

Pathstone’s acquisition of $17 billion AUM Veritable was the biggest deal of July, and Cetera’s acquisition of $24.8 billion AUM Securian was the biggest deal YTD through July.

The report aimed to capture M&A deals for RIAs with over $100 million in assets under management/advisement, but under $30 billion, and independent broker-dealers with over $1 billion in assets under administration.

Strategic Partnerships

5. SEIA Aims To Enhance Advisory Services With In-House Broker-Dealer

Brian Holmes, President and CEO, SEIA

On Sept. 1, Los Angeles-based RIA Signature Estate & Investment Advisors (SEIA) aims to launch the in-house broker-dealer it first announced in August 2022, Signature Estate Securities (SES), which acquired a shell broker-dealer that it since has been developing for service to SEIA’s advisors. When the broker-dealer goes live, SEIA’s advisors will have immediate access. As of June 30, SEIA and its affiliates oversaw $17.8 billion in assets.

SEIA had an affiliation with Royal Alliance, prior to the rebrand of that outside broker-dealer under the new Osaic parent brand. As of August 15, SEIA’s securities remained offered through Osaic Wealth, Inc. SEIA will continue working with Osaic through its TAMP, Signature Investment Advisors, which mainly had been used by Royal Alliance and now is available to all Osaic advisors. SIA will now seek to expand distribution through other RIAs and broker-dealers.

“Having an in-house broker-dealer elevates our advisors’ capability to provide holistic services and offerings under one roof and brings us another step closer to being a full-service firm,” said Brian Holmes, President and CEO of SEIA. “Furthermore, developments like SES strengthen our position as a firm of choice for new and experienced advisors.”

Promotions & People Moves

6. Kingswood U.S. Expands Leadership Team For Investment Banking Division

Kevin Ernst, Managing Director, Kingswood Investments

Kingswood U.S. hired Kevin Ernst as a Managing Director in its investment banking division, which recently hired Edward Tsuker and Ariel Imas as CEO and President of Kingswood Investments, respectively. Kingswood U.S. is part of the Kingswood Group, a network of wealth management firms overseeing more than $13 billion in AUM globally, with 400 registered professionals.

The investment banking division has offices in Florida, Texas and New York. Ernst has approximately 35 years of experience, including with cross-listings, IPOs and SPAC transactions. He previously worked at Merrill Lynch, UBS, the American Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Most recently, Ernst served as the Chief Investment Officer for a family office in Toronto.

“As I considered my next opportunity in this space, I found that Kingswood’s culture, scale and access to high net worth investors and family offices through Kingswood U.S.’s growing asset management platform gave me everything I was hoping to find in a new professional home,” Ernst said. “Frankly, I saw Kingswood being at a major inflection point with all the pieces to take full advantage of its strengths as a major middle market firm.”

Recruiter Of The Month

Randy Long, Founder & Managing Principal and, effective Sept. 1, Chairman, SageView Advisory Group

Randy Long, Founder & Managing Principal and, effective Sept. 1, Chairman, SageView Advisory Group

Newport Beach, California-based SageView Advisory Group announced that its Founder and Managing Principal Randy Long will become Chairman of the Board and John Longley, most recently President of SVB Private, a division of First Citizens Bank & Trust, will take the role of CEO, both effective Sept. 1.

SageView has 30 offices nationwide and its wealth management business oversees $4 billion in client assets. The firm expects the recently announced appointments to further its ongoing expansion in wealth management and reinforce its retirement plan advisory business. We spoke to Long about how Longley’s appointment also impacts SageView’s recruitment goals.

WSR: How does the appointment of John Longley as CEO help position SageView to achieve its recruitment goals of financial advisors over the next year?

John Longley, CEO, effective Sept. 1, SageView Advisory Group

Long: John’s appointments will further our ongoing expansion in wealth management, while reinforcing our leadership position in the retirement plan advisory space. Over the course of his career, John has built meaningful relationships across the industry. At its core, wealth management and retirement are relationship businesses. While we’ve had incredible success during the last several years, we are thrilled to be able to accelerate this growth under John’s leadership.

WSR: What type of advisors make for the ideal SageView recruit, and why?

Long: While it may seem cliché, key to our success is fostering culture. We believe that we should be helping plan participants advance their financial goals and security. We take a similar view of our responsibilities within our wealth management business. Advisors who understand the nuances of working to enhance and protect their clients’ best interests and security, and not simply drive returns and expand wealth, fit best into our team.

There are many incredible, client-focused advisors within our industry, and we feel confident that will continue to drive meaningful growth that supports our views and culture.

WSR: What is SageView’s value proposition to such advisors? What makes the firm stand out from a recruitment perspective?

Long: SageView’s ability to seamlessly connect its platforms, professionals and solutions across its retirement plan advisory business with its comprehensive wealth management business is the core of its value proposition. Incoming financial advisors will benefit from the growth and continued success of the retirement plan advisory business – which advises on more than 2,100 defined contribution, defined benefit and deferred compensation retirement plans, representing approximately 1.7 million participants with $170 billion in assets.

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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