New York-based wealth management holding company Atria Wealth Solutions has struck a deal to acquire independent broker-dealer Western International Securities Inc., a Pasadena, Calif., firm serving 400 advisors and overseeing $13 billion in assets under administration.

This is Atria’s fifth acquisition since 2017. Atria’s existing platform of four broker-dealer subsidiaries supports nearly 2,000 financial advisors with more than $65 billion of assets under administration.

Western International, according to the companies’ press release announcing the acquisition, “serves independent financial advisors in a variety of models including affiliation through a turnkey branch solution that offers professional office space, integrated technology and dedicated support staff.”

The California firm was founded in 1995 and lists on its website clearing relationships with National Financial Services (a Fidelity affiliate) and Pershing. “Through these relationships, our representatives have access to a full array of products and services as well as advanced trading capabilities, block trading, fixed-income desks and managed account programs,” Western International says on its website.

Atria is a multi-channel wealth management holding company helmed by Doug Ketterer, who founded the firm in 2016 after leaving behind a 25-year career with Morgan Stanley (his last role there was as head of strategy and client wealth management). He struck out on his own with a vision of a new business model for broker-dealers—the idea of combining companies with the strengths of different channels. He says the wealth management industry is picking up market share from insurers, wirehouses and the bank channel.

Since its founding, Atria has also bought NEXT Financial Group Inc.; Cadaret, Grant & Co. Inc.; CUSO Financial Services; and Sorrento Pacific Financial LLC.

CUSO and Sorrento Pacific helped Atria into the financial institutions channel, Ketterer said in an interview with Financial Advisor, placing advisory and wealth management solutions programmed in credit unions and banks. Cadaret, Grant and NEXT serve the more traditional independent model, Ketterer said. With the channel and technology realities of mobile texting—and the expectations of clients that they will get information where and when they want it—Ketterer said, “there’s more change going on now and at a much faster pace than I’ve ever seen in my 30 years.” 

Ketterer said that he ran into Western International Securities’ CEO Donald Bizub at an FSI conference a couple of years ago and found they both agreed on the future of the business. “What I realized at the time was that our strategies were fairly similar, but you know as well as I do that wealth management is a scale game. We need scale and size to do a lot of the things that you consider a bright idea.”

It also helped that Western International Securities, a national firm, had a preponderance of advisors on the West Coast, which complements Cadaret Grant and NEXT.

Ketterer said Western International also has a variety of business models it offers to advisors and independents.

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