For the country’s leading IBDs, the jump in revenues was a welcome change after a moderate 4.7% uptick in 2012. But the sweet year also lured in a new player, who emerged seemingly out of nowhere to shake up the rankings’ top spots.

Nicholas Schorsch, the REIT magnate and executive chairman of RCS Capital, snapped up five prominent broker-dealers at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, at prices some deem rich and others call canny. In January, he paid $1.15 billion for one of the largest networks in the country, Cetera Financial Group, and its four distinct B-D brands.

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