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Voya takes on bigger rivals with new RIA channel

Voya takes on bigger rivals with new RIA channel

23:29 03 September in In the News

September 3, 2015

By Mason Braswell, Investment News


New platform will let the firm offer affiliation options like those at larger broker-dealers such as LPL and Raymond James

Voya Financial Inc. is casting its lot with a number of other large broker-dealers looking to capitalize on the rapid growth in fee-based business by opening a new channel aimed at advisers with their own registered investment adviser.

The hybrid RIA platform, which will be open to advisers with $100 million or more in assets under management, will allow investment advisers to use Voya’s platform and broker-dealer for commission-based business while operating under their own brand and filing their own ADV form, according to Andre Robinson, head of advisory services at Voya. Previously, investment advisers had to register under the Voya corporate RIA.

“When we started to evaluate what is occurring in the space and look at the metrics as they relate to the RIA segment, it was a no-brainer,” Mr. Robinson said. “We’ve been actively talking to investment adviser representatives of many of our competitors interested in going this route, and now that we have it, we can reignite those conversations and hopefully experience some activity there.”

The new channel will allow Voya, which has around 2,200 brokers managing some $43 billion, to better compete with other large broker-dealers such as LPL Financial, Raymond James Financial Inc., Commonwealth Financial Network and Cambridge Investment Research Inc., which offer a similar ability for advisers with their own RIA to affiliate, according to Jon Henschen of Henschen & Associates, a recruiting firm.

“Voya has been talking about doing this for a couple years, and now they’re finally doing it,” he said. “It will help them in recruiting and attracting more advisers.”

Advisers will have to use Pershing, Voya’s corresponding clearing firm, for clearing and custody, according to Maggie Dietrich, a spokeswoman for Voya. The plan is to open it up to allow RIAs in the hybrid channel to be multi-custodial sometime next year, she said.

Almost one-quarter, or $9.92 billion of Voya’s assets, were in fee-based advisory accounts run through the firm’s corporate RIA at the end of 2014. That’s up 25% from 2013, according to a statement from the firm.

Mr. Henschen said that the industry’s shift toward fee-based advisory business has pushed a number of broker-dealers to allow advisers to open their own RIA, even though it is sometimes not as profitable because the assets are held outside the broker-dealer and they cannot benefit from markups on ticket charges and administrative fees.

“My feeling is that it’s something they do because the market is demanding it, not because they want to,” he said. “If they had their druthers, they wouldn’t do it.”

Mr. Robinson said that Voya has “aggressive goals” in place for hiring onto the hybrid channel, but declined to provide specific numbers. He said that Voya will have strict qualification standards in addition to the $100 million in assets and will conduct background checks to make sure that the advisers have no marks on their record before allowing them to open their own RIA on Voya’s platform.