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Fidelity begins search for new RIA national sales manager as Bob Oros goes millennial, vacating a prized position

The kids pioneered the mindset but now the Oroses of the world grab quality-of-work, make-a-difference opportunities that their experience allows them to command

Saturday, January 14, 2017 – 1:51 AM by Brooke Southall
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Fidelity can only offer so much to a Gen X talent like Bob Oros

Brooke's Note: Since we wrote this article, we found out where Bob Oros landed. See: How a very Schwabian picture forms as Bob Oros joins John Clendening 

Bob Oros occupies a sweet spot in the RIA ecosystem.

For a few more days, anyway.

He's the national sales and relationship manager for Fidelity's RIA custody business. He is also the designated head of the RIA portion of the $1.7-trillion Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions unit, which includes 2,500 RIA custody clients. (In previous years, Fidelity let out that RIA assets tended to be about 50% of the total. The company no longer makes such hints.) 

Oros, 51, who came to Fidelity in 2012, wants out. He got a better offer.

"Bob Oros has made a personal decision to leave Fidelity in order to take on a unique, new professional challenge," writes Erica Birke, spokeswoman for Fidelity in an email. She declined to be more specific about the nature of that challenge.  

The departure says something about five-year career itches on Oros's part despite the fact that top jobs at major RIA custodians turn over at a papal rate. Cases in point:  Schwab Advisor Services's Bernie Clark, Pershing Advisor Solutions' Mark Tibergien and TD Ameritrade's Tom Nally have occupied their perches since roughly forever. See: Coming RIA custody fees and a new recruiting war catch the attention of deal hounds in Manhattan.

'Thought leaders' in demand

But the Oros move may make an even bigger statement about how the Silicon Valley mindset has engulfed the RIA business both in terms of redefining career opportunities and the persons who will fill those slots, namely millennials, whose upper bracket is pushing 36 years old -- middle management level.

Just as important, the millennial emphasis on the importance of a good career experience is trickling up to its Gen X cohort, according to Cecile Munoz, CEO of U.S. Executive Search & Consulting Inc. in Los Angeles.

"Expect to see much more of this in 2017," she says. "Indications are that thought leaders among RIAs are going to be highly sought after. Banks, brokerages, software companies. This is the skill set that they must have."

Where Oros really shines is his ability to combine knowledge of delivering services en masse to RIAs with his demonstrated ability to manage people from four demographically defined subcultures: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Y, Munoz adds.

Mystery gig

Timothy Welsh, president of Nexus Strategy, without being informed of Munoz's take, makes a similar point.

Cecile Munoz: Indications are that thought leaders among RIAs are going to be highly sought after.

"There are so many big opportunities outside of the custodians in the RIA space!" he writes in an email. "Custodians are just one component in a much broader ecosystem that continues to grow as RIAs continue to drive the market-share bus." Cerulli's new numbers buttress the RIAs-supplant-brokers theorem with 40% market share jump seen by 2018.

Though Oros's new job has yet to be disclosed, sources inside and out of Fidelity were unanimously psyched about the wow factor that attaches to his next spot. The job, they say, is at a company that is not at all in competition with Fidelity.

Doing the company hop

Munoz says Fidelity's core prowess puts its executives in the head-hunting crosshairs.

"Now we rarely hear about the wirehouses," she says. "Fidelity is brilliant at understanding the needs of their clients and delivering it. That's where the difference is -- service on a chassis of technology."

Indeed, Fidelity has been bedeviled by poachers of RIA talent for years. Oros's predecessor as head of RIA sales, Scott Dell'Orfano, went to Banyan Partners, a big RIA. See: Scott Dell'Orfano lands at a $1.4 billion RIA with plans to deal its way to $10 billion Marty Bicknell, CEO of Mariner Holdings, also hired Kevin Corbett from Fidelity. Big Midwestern RIA hires away a Fidelity exec to realize its $50 billion plan

Still, Welsh reminds that Oros has made the kinds of career sacrifices that bear fruit.

Tim Welsh: The secret is being willing to company-hop from one custodian to another, as there is almost never any room at the top

"Bob has been a rare talent that pioneered the career path to climb the corporate ladder and succeed as an executive in the custodian space," he says. "The secret is being willing to company-hop from one custodian to another, as there is almost never any room at the top.  Those rarefied spots -- there are really only four in the industry -- are almost always filled by senior executives coming over from other business units in the broader organizations."

Oros headed sales at Trust Company of America from 2010 to 2011 and held various roles at LPL Financial from 2008 to 2010. From 1998 to 2007 he worked for Charles Schwab & Co.

Seven doing the job of one

Oros assumed his current position in February 2015 when Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services and National Financial merged to become Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions. Prior to that, Oros was head of sales and relationship management for Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. See: The 6 biggest trends affecting the RIA business

Oros ascended when Mike Durbin was called away in March of 2015 to oversee a roll-up of software firms under the Fidelity umbrella, starting with eMoney. See: The mission-critical task Abby Johnson has entrusted to Mike Durbin regarding Fidelity's RIAs and automation. But Oros's job was never exactly like Durbin's because he kept his sales duties and the RIA unit ceased to exist as a discrete division.

Fidelity will soon launch a search for Oros's replacement but in the meantime seven regional managing directors will divvy-up his duties. They will report directly into Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions, and Oros's soon-to-be ex-boss.  Bob Oros jumps to the top 'RIA' spot at Fidelity 

In addition, David Canter, executive vice president of practice management & consulting for the custody unit, occupies the same echelon in Fidelity's RIA business, albeit with a different focus. See: Fidelity warns on the fees RIAs charge as growth of their practices falter yet lower prices aren't the answer

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See more related moves

Mentioned in this article:

TD Ameritrade
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Tom Nally

Nexus Strategy
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Timothy D. Welsh

Pershing Advisor Solutions
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Mark Tibergien

Stephen Winks

Stephen Winks

January 17, 2017 — 4:43 PM
The demands of the RIA business are materially different from the brokerage and custody businesses which are faced with disruptive industry redefining innovation. The disruption entailed in advisory services is not possible in a brokerage/custody format. Professional standing in advisory services is based on the tenant that one can not profit from a position of trust--literally engendering trust. A new generation of advisory services support will (1) as a prudent expert trade execution must be treated as a cost center to be minimized in the client's best interest rather than a profit center in the b/ds best interest, (2) prudent process (asset/liability study, investment policy, portfolio construction, performance monitor) authenticated back to objective, non-negotiable fiduciary criteria of statute, case law and regulatory opinion letters put financial services back into the financial services business assuring professional standing, (3) consumer protections denied to the retail investor are assured under a fiduciary standard, (4) redundant account administration cost at the product, trustee and client levels that add no incremental vale are eliminated, (5) real time client holdings data is advanced to streamline cost and introduce a more modern way to construct portfolios, (6) continuous, comprehensive counsel required for fiduciary standing is achieved by the electronic management and monitoring of an unprecedented range of investment and administrative values, (7) it will be clear to investors the range of investment and administrative values their advisors address and manage and whether value is added relative to the market net of fees, commissions and administrative cost. A new generation of leadership is emerging which will close the chasm between transactions and advisory services all of which is disruptive to an outdated brokerage business model. Thus conventional brokerage experience is exactly the experience with the least value in advisory services. SCW


January 18, 2017 — 3:01 AM
As RIA with less than $25 mil AUM, Fidelity notified me June 2016 of their "business decision" to kick me off their platform with 4-6 weeks notice. Schwab was happy to accommodate me and my clients. What gives, Fidelity?
brooke southall

brooke southall

January 18, 2017 — 3:57 AM
Hey Mariel, Were you given the option of paying a fee to stay on the platform? Did something change? Thanks, Brooke <a href="http://riabiz.com/a/2013/9/24/fidelitys-annual-10000-custody-fee-will-attach-to-a-wider-swath-of-small-rias" rel="nofollow">http://riabiz.com/a/2013/9/24/fidelitys-annual-10000-custody-fee-will-attach-to-a-wider-swath-of-small-rias</a>
Ryan Marcus

Ryan Marcus

January 18, 2017 — 3:18 PM
Bob is a long time friend. I've worked with him extensively during his time at TCA, and at Fidelity. He is a visionary and solid leader. Wishing him the best of luck in his next endeavor.


January 18, 2017 — 5:48 PM
Thanks Brooke for the articles. No I was not given that opportunity. They were very clear about wanting me off, period.

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