Royal Alliance, the large New York City-based independent brokerage, has
acquired High Mark Securities in Lakeland, Fla. No purchase price was
disclosed, but High Mark reportedly was seriously courted by several firms
besides Royal, which is a part of AIG Advisor Group.

High Mark operates offices in Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and
Illinois. Sources familiar with the bidding said the four-year-old
Florida-based firm had slightly more than 80 producing reps and generated
about $12 million per year, or $150,000 per rep.

Mark Goldberg, president of Royal Alliance, says he was impressed with High
Mark's ability to launch the firm and rapidly reach a degree of critical
mass during the extended three-year bear market that began in April 2000.
"It's a small fast-growing firm that needed to become more fully
diversified," he says.

Initially, High Mark reps had concentrated on selling insurance, variable
annuities and fixed-rate products. "They wanted more funds and fee-based
services and it would have been challenging to build a platform to encompass
all that," Goldberg explains.

Royal made a conscious decision earlier this year to focus on servicing large
independent planning and advisory firms and Goldberg believes it is paying
off. "We're having the best recruiting year in our history and business so
far in 2004 is 25% ahead of last year," he says.

In another development, AIG Advisor Group is opening as many as six new
transition suites to enable wirehouse brokers to become independent reps in
the next week or so. Royal is opening three in the greater New York
metropolitan area, while Phoenix-based SunAmerica Securities is opening two
in its home town and FSC Securities is opening one in the Atlanta area near
its headquarters.