D.A. Davidson Companies President Jim Kerr will replace long-time CEO Bill Johnstone as chief executive in January 2015, the company announced.

Kerr has nearly four-decades of experience in the securities industry. He joined Davidson in 2005, and has served as the firm's president since 2012. Kerr inherits a firm that has 400 advisors and over 1,300 employees, and which manages more than $45 billion in client assets.

"I think you have to spend time in getting to know your people and getting their thoughts on the direction of the company," says Kerr. "So a lot of my time will [initially] be spent getting to know the other people in the business that I was not directly responsible for."

Johnstone has been at Davidson since 2000, according to his profile on the company's website. He has served as the firm's chief executive since 2004 and was elected chairman in 2012.

As CEO, Johnstone oversaw an expansion at D.A. Davidson which included the firm's 2013 acquisition of Crowell Weedon, a Los Angeles-based broker-dealer with 14 offices in California. The move gave Davidson its first footprint in the state.

Under Johnstone's watch, the firm revamped its logo to include a buffalo and the firm's new motto, "The Strength of Advice."

"We're a Western firm and we thought it was important to connect with that in our logo," Johnstone told On Wall Street when the log was changed in June. "It says the West and it says strength."

The Great Falls, Mont.-based company also changed to its current name from Davidson Companies.

Kerr began his career as a broker at Foster & Marshall in 1976. He later served as president of Ragen MacKenzie, which was later acquired by Wells Fargo. He said that he has known Johnstone for about 20 years, and that both share a common vision for the company.

"We are a firm that has grown quite a bit and a lot of our emphasis will continue to be on growth," he says.

The company also said that Executive Vice President Michael Purpura has been promoted to president of the firm's Individual Investor Group. Purpura has worked at Davidson since 1996, according to FINRA records.  


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