Is Tom Bradley's Promotion To Run Retail Distribution At TD Ameritrade Good For RIAs?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012 17:15
Is Tom Bradley's Promotion To Run Retail Distribution At TD Ameritrade Good For RIAs?

Tags: competitors | custodians | RIAs

After running TD Ameritrade’s RIA custody business for over a decade, Tom Bradley is being promoted to run retail distribution at the giant discount brokerage, and that could be good news for RIAs.   

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Bradley is well-liked by RIAs. He’s a New York kind of guy, a street-fighter, and very down to earth. He will be missed by investment advisors. But he may actually wind up helping RIAs quite a bit while running TD's retail business.
Having spent a big part of his career working with RIAs, my guess is that Bradley is likely to find ways to find ways to help advisors in his new position.
Bradley, in running the retail business, is going to make a lot o decisions that affect advisors.
Should TD’s retail division start offering private client services, providing advice to high-net-worth individuals, as Schwab does?
How can the retail branches offer a better referral program for advisors?
Should TDAI start an advisor franchise business?
What advice will TD online retail apps provide and will TD's online retail investors be pitched on meeting with an RIA?
Maybe I’m being naïve. Bradley could turn out to run retail ruthlessly without any care for advisors. But I’ve been impressed by the corporate culture at TD Ameritrade.
Culture differentiates TDAI from the other custodians. TD is less corporate and more open than other custodians. TDAI opening its application program interface to RIA vendors is an example of how this cultural value manifests itself. (Tell me if you think I’m wrong.) As a result, Bradley in his new post could find new opportunities where TD’s retail and institutional businesses both win.
Discount brokerages like TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and Fidelity are increasingly going to compete for the mass-affluent and high-net-worth investment clients targeted by RIAs.
Bradley, who has been trained to think like an investment advisor for the last two decades and who has deep roots in this segment of the financial advice business, can be an advocate for RIAs even as he seeks to grow TD's retail discount brokerage services with the same intensity he devoted to TDAI.


Comments (7)

Ron Peremel
This has to be good for independent financial advisors and the retail public. Bradley (and the culture he's built at TDAI)know every issue that affects an advisory practice and has learned well from the missteps of Schwab and Fidelity (and his own) as to what not to do. I'm sure he'll find ways to expand their advisory division thru the retail side in a way that doesn't hurt their "guidance" offerings now provided by their retail branches. He and Tomczyk know that their growth engine is the advisory group and that their retail customers want more one-on-one financial advice. Bradley is just the man to build that bridge. Contratulations Tom and Mr. Nally!
a guest , February 07, 2012
is a guest Tom Bradley? I love TDAI as a custodian, but never really believed Bradley's rhetoric was more than just business. TDAI has rolled out and promoted products that are popular at brokerage firms without ever considering if they were really the best manner for an RIA to fulfill a fiduciary capacity. The UMAX push right now is the best example - kinda hard justify the fees layered on investor.
brentb843 , February 08, 2012
Glad we use Pershing Advisor Solutions and don't have to even think about stuff like this.
bramsay , February 11, 2012
Jeff Weiand
Brent, with all due respect, I could not disagree with you more. Tom Bradley was the only BD/Custodian that went to bat for the fiduciary movement, for RIAs and to vehemently oppose the Merrill Lynch rule. TDAI provides value-added services that absolutely take into consideration the need for RIAs to fulfill their fiduciary obligation. They have a finger on the pulse of many of their top advisors wants, needs and desires. As far as costs, they pioneered the movement of offering lower transaction fees and have 100+ non-proprietary ETFs at no cost. I could go on, but have to run. Thanks.
Jeff Weiand , February 13, 2012
Hi Jeff - Tom provided no concrete solution. Just 'fiduciary is good.' I am saying he did not embrace it outside of speaking, through business processes.

If he truly was concerned, he would have begun with the question that is killing those trying to implement Dodd/Frank - can a single person be dually registered?

Didn't Fidelity and Schwab start the no fee ETF first?
brentb843 , February 13, 2012
Jeff Weiand
Hey Brent – again, I appreciate the dialogue. While none of this may ever change your mind, the fact remains that Tom Bradley stood up for RIAs and the fiduciary movement with passion that resided from the core. I have had conversations with him on several occassions and his actions have always supported his beliefs. He wrote letters, lectured about it, spoke about - it was his mission so to question that just simply befuddles me. But I guess we're all allowed to speculate based on whatever knowledge or limited knowledge we might have.

Interesting how NAPFA honored Tom in 2006. Specifically, Bradley was commended for his strong stance in favor of strengthening regulations related to brokerdealers.
TD AMERITRADE is one of the only major investment firms in the nation to come out in favor of requiring that broker-dealers who claim to offer fee-based investment advice be regulated as investment advisors with respect to that activity. Such regulation, which has been resisted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for years, would put those broker-dealers under greater regulatory scrutiny and would require them to act
in the consumer’s fiduciary interest, instead of their employer’s interest.

Lastly, regarding who had the no fee ETF first? Let's reword that more appropriately - who had the first no fee, non-proprietory ETF? You guessed it, TDA. Anyone can waive a fee when they're still receiving the operating expense. And if being first is most important, not that long ago, Schwab's mutual fund transaction fees were as follows:

Transaction Mutual Funds
$1-15,000 /.30% / $22 minimum
$15,001-$55,000 /.15% / $45 minimum
$55,001-$110,000 /.125% / $82 minimum
>$110,000 /.075 / $137 minimum

We actually celebrated when the mutual fund transaction fees were eventually capped at $99. All the while, TD Ameritrade was a FLAT $24 regardless of the size. So who was first when it really counted? Fortunately today they are all very competitive price wise.

Again, thanks for the dialogue. We just might have to agree to disagree on this one.
Jeff Weiand , March 08, 2012
What were you waiting on a reply for TDAI for my points? Again, read my original question as to what business processes and practices did he implement?
brentb843 , March 08, 2012

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