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When Andrew Welsch of Financial Planning wrote about the challenges of leaving a big brokerage firm for a smaller, independent firm, he checked in with Cardan Partners co-founders Sarah Keys and Ross Fox.

From his report:

For over a decade, wirehouse advisors have jumped from large brokerages to smaller independent firms. Clients have often followed suit. In 2017 alone, employee advisors managing nearly $40 billion moved to RIAs or IBDs, according to an analysis of hiring announcements by Financial Planning.

“All this movement was made possible in part by the Broker Protocol, a 2004 accord that permits advisors to take basic client contact information with them when switching firms.

Sarah L. Keys, J.D., M.A.

Sarah L. Keys, J.D., M.A.

“But Morgan Stanley and UBS’ recent departure from the Broker Protocol has other firms also eyeing the exit, casting a shadow over the future of the industrywide pact. Could the protocol’s demise cut off the flow of talent and assets from the wirehouse to independent channel?”

For Sarah, Ross and the rest of the Cardan team, the desire for greater independence far outweighed the fear of becoming a legal target. As Welsch also reported:

“In 2016, it took only 45 minutes after Sarah Keys’ resignation before her ex-employer, Merrill Lynch, started sending emails to her clients. Keys and her three partners left the wirehouse to launch Cardan Capital Partners in Denver, and today their team oversees approximately $700 million.”


“… Even if all the big bank-owned brokerages quit the protocol, the reasons advisors have been leaving for smaller independent firms have not changed. Keys and her partners, for one, would probably have been undeterred by a lack of protocol.

“’I imagine we still would have done it,’ says one of Keys’ partners, Ross Fox. ‘The people we talked to before we left all said that they wish they had done it sooner.'”

For more from Financial Planning, visit here.

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