Registered investment advisory firm Concert Wealth Management is getting set to hire about 40 new financial advisors this year following its hiring of veteran Merrill Lynch financial advisor Brad Stratton earlier this month.

Concert Global, a holding company that includes the firm’s wealth management business, was founded in 2006 by current Chief Executive Felipe Luna and his wife. The inspiration, Luna said in an interview with On Wall Street this week, was getting away from major Wall Street firms. From the firm’s success in hiring so far, Luna said he sees more professionals who share that sentiment.

“When we first started the firm, it was to get away from the bureaucracy and control mechanisms inside the large firms,” Luna said. “When we grew up a little bit after about a year and a half, we realized that our sentiment was shared widely and across the population in these wirehouses, and they all seemed to have the same set of issues.”

Those issues include feeling inhibited to serve their clients within the demands of the large firms, according to Luna.

Stratton joined Concert on Feb. 17 after about 20 years at Merrill Lynch. He comes to the firm with about $75 million in client assets under management, and will be based out of the firm’s Overland Park, Kansas, office.

Concert, which is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., currently has about 66 total financial advisors. The firm has also has two offices in Houston, an office in Tempe, Ariz., and multiple locations in California, including San Diego, Port Beach, Walnut Creek, Menlo Park and Sacramento. Two new locations in Los Angeles are expected to open in the coming weeks.

Wirehouse financial advisors have been attracted to the firm because of the support Concert provides in the transition, Luna said, particularly for the middle office. To expand its force, Concert is seeking financial advisors who are focused on their clients and working mostly from fee-based platforms, including advisor as portfolio manager, separately managed accounts or mutual fund wrap business.

While Concert has had success in tapping the large firms for talent, new changes in the Registered Investment Advisory channel could also help lure financial advisors, according to Luna. This year, the Dodd-Frank legislation will require that small to mid-size RIAs with between $25 million and $100 million in assets under management register with states instead of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The complexity and cost of remaining compliant is going to go up for many of these RIA firms, so we’re starting to see a good many of them looking for some options,” Luna said.

For that wealth management business expansion, Concert plans to look to the East coast, including the Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Florida areas. The firm is scheduled to open a Chicago office in three weeks, as well as a Dallas location at the end of March.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.






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