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Lincoln Looks to Bolster National Recruiting

Lincoln Looks to Bolster National Recruiting

00:00 01 April in In the News

by Bruce Kelly and featured in Investment News
April, 2006:

New York – After years of little or no national recruiting presence, Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. has gone outside the firm to bolster its recruiting staff.

Last Wednesday, Chris Flint, who had been senior vice president for branch office development with Securities America Inc. of Omaha, Neb., joined Lincoln of Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mr. Flint is senior vice president, head of producer recruitment, at Lincoln. Like the other brokerage executives at the firm, he is based in Philadelphia. Lincoln’s addition of Mr. Flint, a 10-year veteran at Securities America who rose through the ranks, clearly is a step in a different direction, industry observers said. In fact, the move caught some in the industry off guard.

Until now, most recruiting at Lincoln has been done on the regional level with little national presence or focus, one industry recruiter said.

“I’m surprised to see Chris move,” said Jonathan Henschen, president of Henschen & Associates, a recruiting firm in Marine on St. Croix, Minn. “Securities America has been such a stable firm. He’s been key for the growth there,” Mr. Henschen said. “Maybe [Lincoln] is looking to him to whip their recruiting into shape. They don’t have an active recruiting force that I’m aware of,” Mr. Henschen said of Lincoln’s emphasis on training financial planners who change professions.

Since 2002, when chief executive Robert W. Dineen joined Lincoln from Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. of New York, the firm has gone through a wide restructuring, from the payout grid to offices being consolidated.

Lincoln remains a leading independent-contractor broker-dealer, reporting $514 million in operating revenue last year, though that figure represents the total business segment of the unit, not just the broker-dealer’s revenue.

Some top Lincoln advisers recently left the firm, including last year’s top producer, Erin Botsford of Dallas, who departed in January to become affiliated with FSC Securities Corp. of Atlanta (InvestmentNews, Feb. 6). She generated nearly $3 million in gross dealer concession for Lincoln last year, industry observers said at the time.

Some saw Lincoln’s snagging Mr. Flint as a coup for the firm.

“I don’t know Chris, but coming from where he’s coming from, that’s probably a good free agent pickup” for Lincoln, said Philip Palaveev, senior manager with Moss Adams LLP of Seattle. Mr. Palaveev characterized Securities America as a firm with “young, dynamic” executives and “a very creative team.”

Lincoln, on the other hand, is “very different in style,” more “mature,” “conservative” and “slow to move,” he said.

In an e-mail message to InvestmentNews, Mr. Flint said he would work on “building an effective and efficient team” to meet the company’s growth strategies. He also said Mr. Dineen’s desire to build the business was “very attractive to me,” adding that 2005 was Lincoln’s best year for recruiting experienced advisers, though he declined to provide any numbers.

About the firm’s culture, he wrote, “I have not been with the organization long enough to experience the culture.

However, I have experienced the cultural beliefs of the leadership team, which I found attractive. “The management … is committed to entrepreneurialism and independence, two traits I am very familiar with.”

Meanwhile, Securities America is plugging the hole created by Mr. Flint’s departure from within. Tom Cross, a senior vice president, now is heading up the firm’s recruiting.

Observers say that Mr. Flint clearly played a part in building up Securities America, which had $351.1 million in gross revenue last year, ranking it among the leading individual broker-dealers. Last year, the firm recruited brokers and advisers who produced $49 million in gross dealer concession.

“We built a great recruiting team under Chris,” said Steve McWhorter, chief executive of Securities America. “There will be a smooth transition under Tom.”

Mr. McWhorter said that Securities America would continue its planned recruiting strategy this year, which emphasized increasing the number of recruiters in the field (InvestmentNews, Feb. 13). “Chris will be missed,” he added.