Many wirehouse and regional advisors have made the leap to the RIA space, and now an ex-brokerage manager who oversaw 400 advisors has followed suit.

Wes Long, who left Wedbush a week ago, is now overseeing advisory operations and recruiting as director of wealth advisor services at Index Fund Advisors, an Irvine, Calif.-based RIA that has 15 advisors and specializes in index investing.

Long had been with Wedbush for 18 years, and rose up the ranks from branch manager to head of the private client group for the Los Angeles-based brokerage firm. He says he made the move because he saw a chance to do something "new and exciting, and cited both the growing strength of the RIA space and index investing.

"It's an outstanding opportunity that doesn't come around very often. It's once in a life time," he says.

RIA CHANNEL GROWTH

Long isn't the only high-ranking brokerage executive to move to a new role working at an RIA or serving the independent channel. Chris Dupuy, who oversaw 1,400 advisors in the Pacific Northwest while at Merrill Lynch, left that firm last year and joined Focus Financial. Many branch managers have also found a second life in the independence space.

"As the RIA channel grows, it makes sense that they will seek out more professional management when the opportunity arises," says recruiter Danny Sarch.

Long says he was impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm's founder and president Mark Hebner, to whom Long will report directly.

"When I looked at the program he put together, I said 'I wish that 25 years ago -- when I joined the industry -- this had been put in front of me,'" he says.

ACQUISITIONS AHEAD?

Long says that as part of his new job he will be looking to recruit advisors to IFA that have an interest in the RIA model and IFA in particular.

He adds, "We may look to do some small acquisitions of small RIAs [in which it] would be beneficial to partner with a larger firm."

Founded in 1999, IFA has about $2.6 billion in AUM.

It was not clear if Wedbush has found a replacement for Long. A spokeswoman was unavailable for comment. In an earlier statement, the spokeswoman said that Wedbush "expresses our appreciation to Wesley Long for his many outstanding contributions over 18 years to Wedbush Securities."

 

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