Ford's enthusiasm for her new overlord is real but she makes no bones about continued vigilance when it comes to vetting non-traded REITs

May 23, 2014 — 5:36 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

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Brooke’s Note: I promised the thoughts of Erinn Ford once I got them. Here they are, thanks to Cetera. AIG was less helpful relating to Allison Couch but we may receive e-mailed answers.

One thing to know about Erinn Ford: She was not selected to head up what is arguably Cetera Financial Group’s most elite independent broker-dealer because of her short commute.

The new president of Cetera Advisors lives in Seattle and her office, for the most part, is in the Cetera headquarters in Denver.

But what Ford lacks in proximity she makes up for with her knowledge of her new job and her established personal relations with the reps who use her broker-dealer — a considerable number of whom are large ensemble type practices with RIA-like or hybrid RIA-like looks to them. She has been one notch down the hierarchy from the president’s office for years and so her old job overlaps with the new one by about 75%, she says. See: As a second woman executive exits Cetera, a third one gets a bigger title.

Cetera Advisors is the renamed Multi-Financial Services, the broker-dealer of the original ING-turned-Cetera triad that is serving classic “true business owner” reps rather than accountants, banks, institutions and the like doing financial advice as an add-on. Cetera Advisors has 1,300 reps.

New era

What was apparent in conversation with Ford was an eagerness to answer questions, any question — including what it was like to now be operating under RCS Capital chief Nicholas Schorsch See: Nicholas Schorsch invites 500 reps to NYC to kick off a 25-city barnstorming tour aimed at easing fears.

Though she allowed that it is too early to tell what, if any, synergies will take place from the ongoing integration of the merger with Schorsch’s firm and other IBDs he has acquired from MetLife and others, Ford says there has been a decided shift in atmosphere at the company. See: Cetera rebrands divisions in its own name, but $1-billion advisor defects to a rival startup.

“I believe there will be an increased emphasis on innovative thinking,” she says. “There is a sense within the operation of new possibility.” See: Why exactly Valerie Brown is out of a job at Cetera — and Larry Roth is in.

Stringent review

Though Ford declined to expound on what inhibiting factors were in play before, she said that the company’s culture seems to be evolving to a better place.

But will the price of new capital for innovating be that Cetera becomes the launching pad for nontraded REITs made back East in Schorsch’s product factories? See: Nicholas Schorsch explains why buying Cetera makes him a white-hat magnate in a black-hat world.

Ford puts it this way:

“I’m still on the committee that reviews products. Our stringent review of non-traded REITs has stayed exactly the same. That objectivity is of utmost importance.”



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