WSR Honors Inaugural FAR 10 – Top Financial Advisor Recruiters

WSR Inaugural List Of FAR 10 – Top Financial Advisor Recruiters Recognizes Leaders From Diamond Consultants, Commonwealth Financial Network, Hightower Advisors, Fidelity Investments, Bridgemark Strategies, Cross-Search, LPL Financial, Stratos Wealth Partners, RFG Advisory And TERRANA GROUP.
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Just as financial advisors provide many different services to a vast array of wealth management clients, financial advisor recruiters also operate across a wide range of models. Some run their own businesses, while others work in-house, at independent broker-dealer networks, RIAs, hybrids and even custodians.

Depending on their platform, recruiters may talk financial advisors through an assortment of affiliation options at a great number of potential firms, or they may discuss the merits of advisors launching their own firms, or they may explain the benefits of the specific platforms that the recruiter represents.

Depending on the advisor, recruiters may emphasize a platform’s home office responsiveness, technological capabilities, M&A expertise, succession planning services, selection of available investment vehicles, portfolio management support, marketing materials, legal situations, overall reputation and more.

However, in all cases, top financial advisor recruiters strive to ensure that the professionals they serve find their ideal destinations in accordance with their career goals and personal values, by leveraging the recruiter’s industry experience and connections.

Our inaugural edition of the FAR 10 features leaders who make that happen on a regular basis, and in the process have helped take their organizations to new heights. We congratulate them on their accomplishments, which we have summarized below. Here are the winners, presented in alphabetical order.

Louis Diamond, President, Diamond Consultants

Louis Diamond, President, Diamond Consultants
Louis Diamond, President, Diamond Consultants

As President of Diamond Consultants, Louis Diamond is responsible for day-to-day operations and future growth. As a consultant to advisors, he guides top teams in transitioning to another employee-model firm or launching their own RIAs.

He joined Diamond Consultants in 2015, and at the start of 2021 became President of the firm created by his mother, Mindy Diamond, more than two decades earlier. Under Louis Diamond’s stewardship, the firm successfully guided advisors transitioning over $300 billion in assets under management (AUM) over the last seven years and facilitated over 25% of $1 billion-plus transitions.

His help expanding its capabilities around M&A, strategic consulting and moving upmarket resulted in Diamond Consultants experiencing 20% year-over-year growth during his tenure. Diamond is an author and contributor to financial media, and co-hosts the Diamond Podcast for Financial Advisors.

“National RIA firms backed by private equity have become a compelling option for wirehouse teams,” he said, speaking of findings in his firm’s latest Advisor Transition Report. “These firms value an advisor’s practice more like an M&A transaction than a traditional recruiting deal, meaning the proceeds are at long-term capital gains, contain a meaningful amount of equity and will value teams as a multiple of earnings.”

“While the RIA model isn’t right for most teams, new options like this drive advisor movement, and we expect to see some very large teams move in this direction. Additionally, many teams are seeing this construct as a tax-efficient and superior way to monetize their practice as an alternative to a wirehouse sunset deal.”

Becca Hajjar, Managing Principal And Chief Business Development Officer, Commonwealth Financial Network

Becca Hajjar, Managing Principal & Chief Business Development Officer, Commonwealth Financial Network
Becca Hajjar, Managing Principal & Chief Business Development Officer, Commonwealth Financial Network

Having spent over 24 years at Commonwealth Financial Network, Becca Hajjar rose through the ranks to Managing Principal and Chief Business Development Officer two years ago. In her role, she sets the strategic direction for the firm’s business development team, which includes advisor recruitment under its mandate.

Since taking the helm, Hajjar has led the team to set new firm recruiting records. She also helps affiliated firms attract advisors to tuck in and participates in firm-wide initiatives including the Women of Commonwealth initiative and Women Advisory Council.

She served as alumni council President and a Trustee for her alma mater, Miss Hall’s School, from 2012 to 2016, and has served as a member of the board of trustees and Chair of the school’s investment committee since 2016.

“We must support existing firms where they are now and where they want to be in the future,” said Hajjar, addressing the importance of tuck-ins as a method of advisor recruitment. “Many of Commonwealth’s offices are looking to expand their advisor teams, and we’ve seen great success in introducing right-fit advisors to established affiliated firms. Our next-level support and advisor community can help both newly recruited and existing advisors build the practices they envision.”

Scott Holsopple, Chief Growth Officer, Hightower Advisors

Scott Holsopple, Chief Growth Officer, Hightower Advisors
Scott Holsopple, Chief Growth Officer, Hightower Advisors

With almost two decades of experience in investment banking, private equity and wealth management, Scott Holsopple oversees Hightower Advisors’ strategy for M&A, wealth solutions, advisor engagement and marketing. Since joining the firm in 2020, he has supervised over 40 transactions, and EBITDA growth has averaged over 34% annually.

Holsopple has redefined the firm’s growth model to bolster both organic and inorganic growth. Under his leadership, the organic growth model helps advisors with business planning, marketing, business management and expanding services for clients, including trust company and tax planning services. The inorganic growth model provides advisors with access to services for sourcing, valuation, due diligence and integration.

He also helped create the Hightower Center for Leadership, a two-year education program designed for the next generation of leaders at the firm’s advisory businesses. Almost 100 advisors have graduated from the program.

Prior to Hightower, Holsopple worked in multiple roles at Focus Financial Partners, was Head of Product & Business Development at The Mutual Fund Store and served as President and CEO at Smart401k.

Explaining how the backing of a private equity firm can provide an advantage in advisor recruiting, Holsopple said, “A great private equity partner provides validation of business quality to prospective advisory practices by indicating a level of accountability and rigor that’s required to run the business. In addition to providing funds for investment, PE support adds intellectual capital to work through challenges and identify growth opportunities.”

Sean Mihal, Vice President Of Sales, Institutional Wealth Management Services, Fidelity Investments

Sean Mihal, Vice President of Sales, Institutional Wealth Management Services, Fidelity Investments
Sean Mihal, Vice President of Sales, Institutional Wealth Management Services, Fidelity Investments

As Vice President of Sales for Institutional Wealth Management Services at Fidelity Investments, Sean Mihal supports the greater Los Angeles area and several western states including Utah.

He plays a key role in advancing Fidelity’s custody solutions – offering wealth management professionals and firms access to investment, technology and platform solutions to better serve their investor clients and grow their businesses. In 2022, Mihal was awarded for exemplifying Fidelity’s cultural values and for his growth and retention contributions.

For more than two decades, Mihal has collaborated with leading RIAs and has consulted with hundreds of advisors, guiding them along their path toward independence. Mihal has leveraged Fidelity’s resources and consultative process to help advisors join an existing RIA or build from scratch.

“The trust advisors place in me is a responsibility I never take for granted and I believe this constant mindfulness has led to some of my best industry friendships, dating back to my first RIA launch in 2002,” he said. Mihal also noted that the number of RIAs has more than doubled since that time.

“Due to that persistent trend, Fidelity places extraordinary resources towards the data security and privacy of our clients,” he said. “It’s the foundation upon which trust is garnered and the starting place for every break away due diligence session. Just as important is the value of service. The cornerstone of any relationship is your ability to meet the needs of your clients in an efficient and effective manner.”

Jeff Nash, CEO, Bridgemark Strategies

Jeff Nash, Co-Founder & CEO, Bridgemark Strategies
Jeff Nash, CEO, Bridgemark Strategies

A financial services veteran with over 30 years of industry experience, Jeff Nash is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bridgemark Strategies, one of the fastest-growing national consultancies specializing in financial advisor transitions and M&A solutions for financial advisors and financial advisory firms.

Nash began his career as a financial advisor before joining LPL Financial. During his nearly 14-year tenure at LPL, he held various leadership positions and oversaw the creation and build-out of LPL’s Business Consulting and Succession Planning department and the redesign of its recruiting team, before leaving to start his own firm in 2013.

His knowledge and expertise are fueled by his daily interactions with financial advisors and advisory teams as well as broker-dealer and RIA executives. His observations and insights on industry trends, opportunities and challenges – many of which can be found in major industry publications – have positioned him as a prominent resource for financial advisors.

“The research indicated that advisors, when switching firms, chose smaller versus larger. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that advisors don’t like the larger firms,” Nash said, speaking of Bridgemark’s findings.

“Those firms actually won more than their share. However, often, when an advisor chose to join a larger firm, they ended up affiliating with a smaller group within that firm. The thought process was to get broader, deeper resources from a larger firm and culture and possibly even point-of-sale expertise from a smaller group within that larger firm.”

Jodie Papike, CEO, Cross-Search
Jodie Papike, CEO, Cross-Search

As the CEO of Cross-Search, Jodie Papike leads the pioneering third-party recruiting firm dedicated to representing independent financial advisors. With 27 years of industry experience, she educates advisors on the current market landscape, comprehensively assessing their options and providing a strategic roadmap for a successful recruiting process.

Her father, Larry Papike, founded the firm in 1989 as a matchmaking service for advisors seeking to affiliate with a new independent broker-dealer or RIA. Since joining Cross-Search in 1997, Jodie Papike has guided more than 2,200 advisors managing over $88 billion in combined client assets through evaluation, negotiation, selection and transition. Papike frequently shares her insights at industry conferences and is regularly featured in leading financial publications.

“Consolidation has served as both a blessing and a curse in recruiting over the past few years,” Papike said. “The blessing is, change in the marketplace stimulates advisor movement, which is positive from a recruiting standpoint. It has also created a more competitive landscape for advisors. The curse is, the impact it has had on advisors psychologically. There is a general mistrust for firms in the marketplace today, that is far beyond anything I have ever seen before.”

This is part of why she values connecting with advisors on a deeper level in service to their well-being and future success. “I am grateful to be at a stage in my career where I can combine my extensive expertise with a compassionate approach to truly assist advisors in finding their ideal firm affiliations,” Papike said.

Scott Posner, Executive Vice President, Business Development, LPL Financial

Scott Posner, EVP of Business Development, LPL Financial

With more than 25 years of financial services, executive management and business development experience, Scott Posner is responsible for leading the national sales and transition teams who recruit financial advisors to LPL Financial.

The firm’s recruiting successes under his leadership include the recent recruitment of $4.6 billion Pilot Financial with 105 advisors. When Posner joined LPL in 2018, the firm recruited a total of $27.3 billion in assets, excluding institutions of $5 billion or higher. Under his leadership, the same number rose to $67.4 billion for 2023.

Prior to joining LPL, he was Partner, Global Business Services at IBM; Managing Partner, Financial Services at Decker Partners; and an EVP at BNY Mellon, where he also served as CEO of the firm’s global corporate trust business.

Posner holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School and a BA from Haverford College. He served on the board of directors and as Treasurer for 12 years at New Yorkers for Children.

Posner’s recruiting strategies include a range of customized recruiting models. “Advisors have unprecedented flexibility in how they choose to affiliate with us,” he said. “Independence looks different for every advisor – and whether they prefer maximum flexibility, want to conduct business in a W2 model, or anything in between, advisors can find their fit within the LPL community.”

Posner emphasizes his firm’s consultative approach, understanding of the marketplace and ability to design a unique solution. “We continue to enhance our capabilities in pursuit of being the best partner for their businesses.”

Charles Shapiro, Founding Partner And Chief Development Officer, Stratos Wealth Partners

Charles Shapiro, Founding Partner & Chief Development Officer, Stratos Wealth Partners

Charles Shapiro, Founding Partner and Chief Development Officer at Stratos Wealth Partners, has spent his 30-year career in the financial services industry primarily affiliated with two organizations. Prior to helping launch Stratos in 2010, he spent 16 years with Smith Barney and its predecessor firms.

In addition to serving as a wealth advisor and a partner in a California-based planning practice, Shapiro is one of five members on the Stratos Executive Committee. Shapiro and his team have been responsible for recruiting over $20 million of advisor revenue and over $2 billion of AUM in the last 18 months. The team focuses recruitment on three primary areas: platform affiliation, advisor acquisition tuck-ins and enterprise M&A.

Stratos companies include Stratos Wealth Partners, Stratos Wealth Advisors, Stratos Wealth Enterprises and Stratos Investment Management. Stratos supports more than 350 independent financial advisors, with over 75 home office support professionals.

“Having multiple affiliation options allows us to solve problems for a wide variety of advisors,” Shapiro said. “Optionality in how you choose to affiliate and what you pay for in a supported independent environment provides customized solutions for a wide variety of situations.”

“Our main goal is to help an advisor evolve through the life cycle of their business – from brokerage to RIA only and then succession to Next Gen. Given the rapid evolution of our industry, providing advisors with flexibility across the entities we operate is an incredible advantage, and gives us a leg up within the competitive M&A market.”

Shannon Spotswood, President, RFG Advisory

Shannon Spotswood, President of RFG Advisory
Shannon Spotswood, President of RFG Advisory

With over 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Shannon Spotswood held leadership roles in investment banking and hedge fund management before arriving at RFG Advisory nine years ago, where she oversees the development of the firm’s integrated platform for independent advisors. Under her leadership, RFG transitioned 27 advisors from 18 individual practices over the course of 18 months in 2022 and 2023, transferring 3,000 client accounts with a 90% transition rate.

Spotswood oversees the firm’s Advisor Growth Program, which has achieved a growth rate of over 19% for advisors fully utilizing its platform, which includes events, one-on-one training and an annual conference. The firm currently serves 56 advisory teams with over $5 billion in assets.

Prior to RFG, she held various roles at Symphony Asset Management and Volpe Brown Whelan & Company. She began her career as a research analyst at EMG Capital.

Spotswood also champions StrongHer Money, an education and prospecting platform aimed at helping advisors expand their practices by engaging with women who seek to take control of their finances.

Describing how she integrates new affiliates during a time of rapid firm growth, she said, “We provide comprehensive services to empower advisors to build their business without compromise. By actively listening and solving problems collaboratively, we create tailored marketing growth plans.”

“We professionalize teams and enhance client experiences through operational excellence,” she continued. “Driven by an obsession with quality, we embody a servant heart and a warrior mindset, committed to achieving success together.”

Michael Terrana, President And CEO, TERRANA GROUP

Michael Terrana, President And CEO, TERRANA GROUP
Michael Terrana, President And CEO, TERRANA GROUP

Michael Terrana, President and CEO of TERRANA GROUP, is a nationally recognized business development consultant and recruiter with over 31 years of experience advising and supporting broker-dealers and RIAs, as well as advisors in the independent channel and on Wall Street.

At TERRANA GROUP, he has cultivated a network of highly experienced consultants, who provide expert insight to wealth management firms and top advisor talent throughout the U.S. Terrana is committed to guiding advisors from inception through onboarding, while seeking to ensure successful transitions that have the greatest benefit not only to their practices but also to their personal and professional growth.

Throughout the process, Terrana’s main goal is to share his passion, knowledge and experience with advisors and open them up to valuable next-level insights within the financial services marketplace.

Regarding how advisors should develop their leadership skills as they go independent, Terrana suggested: “Relationship building and personalized communications are two major keys to success as an independent advisor. It’s important to be an active listener and proactively address client concerns.”

“Engage with client goals, anxieties and aspirations – become their trusted holistic counselor, not just an investment manager,” he said. “Establish yourself as a thought leader within your niche to attract new clients while you differentiate yourself from the competition.”

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at clatham@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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