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Ex-Ameriprise Team Jumps to Voya to Get More Choices

By Murray Coleman September 18, 2015

After working for 27 years through Ameriprise Financial’s independent network, advisor Gary Guglielmello left in May to join Voya Financial Advisors. His practice, which is based in Worcester, Mass., managed about $325 million at Ameriprise. At Voya, Guglielmello and his four partners use the broker-dealer’s front-, middle- and back-office systems as well as its investment-management platforms. New York-based Voya, which changed its name last year after being spun off from Dutch multinational banking and insurance conglomerate ING Group in 2013, says it has about 70 captive advisors and more than 2,100 affiliated independents.

Q: Why did you leave Ameriprise?

A: A big part of our decision to move came from a simple desire to see Ameriprise provide us with greater access to the full breadth of third-party products and services available to advisors working with other broker-dealers. Don’t get me wrong — we had a good platform with a lot of different products to choose from at Ameriprise. But in talking to former colleagues who had left the company, we started to realize that there were just so many more choices in products and services on the market today. So we felt a need to broaden our scope and explore different opportunities.

Q: How will your service menu change at Voya?

A: I don’t know if our quality of service will change as much as the technology involved in continuing to provide clients with a high level of support for years to come. At Ameriprise, we had a few main software packages to serve as core systems to work through our planning process. Now, we’ve got a much more open platform with a lot more choice in the types of packages we can use to do everything from analyzing portfolios to showing clients how they’re progressing with their financial goals. One of our favorites now available to us at Voya is MoneyGuidePro. It’s serving as a major component of our planning process. As we transition clients over to the new practice, we expect to take advantage of more software tools through Voya that we didn’t have access to through Ameriprise.

Q: Did you consider going completely independent and starting your own RIA?

A: Yes, we looked at that option. But having the support of a major broker-dealer and being part of their product and service network were important quality-control features that we didn’t want to give up for our clients. Working closely with a respected broker-dealer also gives us a higher comfort level in terms of sharing some of the business risks in running our own practice.

Q: How did your compensation change?

A: At Voya, we’re essentially working as independent contractors, in the same manner as we were at Ameriprise. But now our payout structure provides us with more opportunities to improve our share of revenues. In other words, if we meet certain production levels, then we’ll gain a larger slice of our group’s sales. Also, through Voya we’re able to control expenses as a business more efficiently. They’re charging us less in several different areas of our normal day-to-day operations. So the net effect is that we should be able to generate a higher payout for our team and control expenses better.

Q: How do you expect the move to help your clients in terms of lower costs?

A: We’ll be able to offer products and services at lower costs. We have more flexibility working through Voya’s platform to find the right fit at a more competitive price point. For example, we now have much broader access to different companies offering annuities and long-term care insurance. We’re also able to tap into a lot wider selection of lower-cost mutual funds and ETFs, which should benefit our clients in terms of both lower fees and more-flexible portfolio strategies.

Q: What advice would you give to other advisors who might be looking at making a switch?

A: I really would urge an advisor who is thinking about making a change to consider partnering with a respected broker-dealer instead of creating your own RIA from scratch. It’s the best of both worlds: You still own your book of business, but you get to share the load in terms of running a business with a much larger network. We’ve found that you don’t have to go completely independent to do right by your clients.