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Cetera finds talent again at Schwab to fill national sales director position

Barnaby Grist taps former colleague Mark Palmer for big job

Friday, August 20, 2010 – 1:42 AM by Brooke Southall
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Barnaby Grist: He will bolster the already-impressive resources that we offer to help our advisors develop and strengthen their client relationships.

Cetera Financial Group’s raid on RIA custodial talent has continued with the hire of a Schwab managing director. The company said yesterday that Mark Palmer will join Cetera as the firm’s national sales manager.

Cetera, a private equity-backed umbrella for the former ING broker-dealers, serves 5,000 IBD reps, and more than 700 financial institutions affiliate with its three independently managed broker-dealers, Financial Network Investment Corporation, Multi-Financial Securities Corporation and PrimeVest Financial Services Inc.

Cetera is financed by deep-pocketed Lightyear, a private equity firm that invests only in financial services companies and is run by former Paine Webber CEO amd UBS United States chairman, Donald Marron. His new company, Lightyear has invested about $3 billion overall in various companies.

Palmer will report to Barnaby Grist, Cetera’s executive vice president – wealth management, who was hired away from Schwab back in February. See:Barnaby Grist is leaving Schwab and Jon Beatty is stepping up

Since then, Grist has built a team that includes Susan Theder, hired away from Pershing Advisor Solutions as Cetera’s director of marketing, and Jay Quinn, 50, who is the national sales director for Cetera’s subsidiary, Multi-Financial Securities Corp. Quinn worked for Schwab Advisor Services [formerly Schwab Institutional] from 1991 to 2004 as a vice president of sales. See:Jay Quinn joins Cetera subsidiary to help Barnaby Grist pave way for more hybrid RIAs

Boutique-like atmosphere

With “sales” in his title, Palmer’s new job, presumably, will be to work hand in hand with Theder. She is trying to create a boutique-like atmosphere for big hybrid RIAs who need an environment where they can customize their offerings enough to retain big, sophisticated investors. The thinking of Cetera executives is that their company has an advantage over giants like LPL Financial in serving these unique needs. LPL is in a quiet period preceding its IPO and is currently not responding to press inquiries. See: Cetera lifts a high-end talent out of Pershing but can the IBD establish itself as a brand presence among advisors?

Palmer, 44, spent the past four years at Schwab Advisor Services as managing director of business consulting. He helped develop services such as strategic planning, client service models and business development strategies for RIAs. I interviewed him [and got his photograph] last year for this article: Schwab study shatters three RIA myths

A Schwab spokeswoman declined to comment other than to verify that he had left Schwab.

Started as a financial advisor

“Mark has a rich background with proven results in helping advisors succeed in financial services and he’s been extremely successful throughout, starting as an advisor, leading Wells Fargo’s private client efforts and helping establish RIAs and accelerate their growth,” said Grist in a release. “He will bolster the already-impressive resources that we offer to help our advisors develop and strengthen their client relationships.”

Palmer said he sees a great opportunity to do more from his new position at Cetera.

“I’m eager to contribute to what Cetera and its advisors are building,” said Palmer in the release. “The industry reached an inflection point in 2008, and the momentum clearly favors independent financial advisors. Working with a company like Cetera can give them unsurpassed tools and support for building their client relationships. This is the future we’ve been hearing about.”

Prior to joining Schwab, Palmer spent several years with Comerica’s wealth management division, serving as regional sales manager and introducing consultative sales training. He previously served as senior vice president of marketing and strategy for Wells Fargo’s private client business. He started his financial services career with Wells Fargo as a private client manager advising high net worth clients.

Licensed attorney

Palmer received his juris doctorate and a master’s degree in international finance and marketing from Georgetown University. He has been a licensed attorney since 1992, serving also as a member of the trusts and estates, and business law sections of the California State Bar. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College.

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