The Omaha, Neb. -based firm move shows its intent to take its foot-in-the-door strategy to the RIA stratosphere

October 30, 2013 — 6:13 PM UTC by Brooke Southall


Brooke’s Note: This could work. TD Ameritrade’s hire of Mike Watson and the plan to deploy him in insurgent strikes is vintage TD RIA custody strategy. Adding to his chances of success is the well-oiled team of top brass all the way up to Fred Tomczyk. While Ned and Abby Johnson and Chuck Schwab and Walt Bettinger make cameo appearances at RIA events, Tomczyk is a fixture at events around the country. If Watson needs to bring corporate TD into a TD subsidiary matter, he won’t have to walk on any egg shells.

TD Ameritrade Institutional has hired back one of its lost sons to lead it to the promised land of RIA accounts measured in billions of dollars under management.

The Jersey City, N.J.-based RIA custodian brought aboard Mike Watson from LPL Financial to fill the newly created position of director, national strategic advisors. See: TD Ameritrade poaches 'bowled over’ Morgan Stanley Private Bank exec to fill key role.

In his new position, Watson is going to court about 25 firm either consolidating more of their assets to TD Ameritrade or opening a test account — a strategy that the TD franchise is practically built on. See: Once good for a few million, TD Ameritrade’s foot-in-the-door strategy is starting to net billions.

The clients fall roughly into categories as national RIAs, roll-ups and TAMPs. Potentially, there are about 100 who fit into the mega category and tend to have “dozens” of employees.

Examples of existing accounts Watson will work include: Mercer Global Advisors of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Beacon Pointe of Newport Beach, Calif.; Creative Planning Inc., which manages $10 billion of assets from Leawood, Kansas; New York-based Edelman Financial and United Capital Financial Advisers in Newport Beach, Calif. TAMPs include: Genworth Financial Wealth Management in Pleasant Hill, Calif.; Envestnet in Chicago; and FTJ FundChoice. The latter firm previously announced its close ties to TD

Big guns

In bringing Watson aboard, TD Ameritrade has poached a very known quantity.

The 40 year-old executive spent 15 years at the company before he departed for LPL in 2011 to oversee the practice management efforts of 13,000 IBD reps. Watson will have a team of three or four working with him. See: LPL lures a TD Ameritrade talent across the San Diego street. At the time an RIABiz article referred to it as hire across a San Diego street. Actually, a La Jolla highway is more like it and the buildings are in eye line of each other.

The big TD guns were brought in to drag him back home.

“I was appealed to by TD’s executive management team about a new segment,” says Watson, who will report to Pete Dorsey, managing director of institutional sales for TD Ameritrade Institutional.

“We’re continuing to move upstream to bigger, more sophisticated firms. We’ve identified that there’s a bit of a gap.” See: In his first big move in his new job as TD’s RIA chief, Tom Nally picks the replacement for his old one.

Watson is considered well-qualified for the position both because of his knowledge of advisory firm practice management and also because he knows the corporate ins and outs and the people who hold the key positions of TD Ameritrade from his long tenure there. The idea is for Watson to confer the big-business practices and resources of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. of Omaha, Neb. onto big RIAs.

Fidelity recently created a similar unit for big RIAs with exotic and intense growth. See: Fidelity reorganizes its advisor business and extrudes a custody unit aimed at outsourcers, roll-ups and TAMPs.

Mentioned in this article:

LPL Financial
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Bill Morrissey

Share your thoughts and opinions with the author or other readers.


Frank Troise said:

October 29, 2013 — 12:06 AM UTC

Congrats Mike!


Mike Byrnes said:

October 29, 2013 — 5:43 PM UTC

TD Ameritrade’s concept to service its best clients is a better, more intense way is a smart one. Congrats to Mike Watson for returning back home to TDAI! — Mike Byrnes, President of Byrnes Consulting, LLC,


Mike Byrnes said:

October 29, 2013 — 5:45 PM UTC

TD Ameritrade’s concept to service its best clients in a better, more intense way is a smart one. Congrats to Mike Watson for returning back home to TDAI! — Mike Byrnes, President of Byrnes Consulting, LLC,


Joe Turk said:

October 30, 2013 — 7:38 PM UTC

Wishing you the best. TD is lucky to get you back!

Submit your comments: