Valley National Bank, one of the largest commercial banks in New Jersey, has switched its third-party broker dealer to Cetera Financial Institutions after a seven-year stint with another provider, Cetera announced on Monday.

Valley National chose Cetera over other rivals because it believed the firm could best help the bank expand its service offerings into the mass-affluent market. Valley National has traditionally included wealth management services for high-net-worth individuals and needed assistance with building a mass-affluent distribution for alternative investments, Cetera said.

The Wayne, N.J.-based bank plans to expand its wealth management services and offer a broader array of investment products. It has four advisors on staff and is in the process of adding 25 people who will be licensed to support retail sales. Valley National also plans to hire additional advisors in the near future, according to Cetera. 

"We are very enthusiastic about working with Cetera Financial Institutions. We will benefit from their extensive experience in helping financial institutions build wealth management programs and recruit financial advisors of outstanding caliber who are attracted to the many benefits of working in the financial institutions channel," Anthony Bruno, Valley National's president of Wealth Management and Insurance Services, said in a statement.

Sixth New Institution This Year

Valley National is the sixth bank to join Cetera's broker-dealer platform this year.  The other five banks were First National Bank of Hermitage, Pa., GTE Federal Credit Union, Utilities Federal Credit Union, Alabama Credit Union and Citizens Bank & Trust. All but Alabama Credit Union had pre-existing investment services programs, which Cetera took over from competitors.

Cetera recently hired two business development executives to recruit new banks and credit unions to its platform.  The duo aims to attract business from financial institutions offering programs through rival third-party broker dealers as well as from institutions that don't offer investment services programs, Catherine Bonneau, Cetera's president and CEO, told Bank Investment Consultant last month in an exclusive interview. 

Takeover and Startup Programs

While Cetera plans to win new business from banks and credit unions that have never had investment programs, such "startup programs" are expected to be far fewer than the "takeover programs" that Cetera manages to grab from rivals, Bonneau said.

"We are delighted to welcome Valley National Bank to our institutional services platform. We look forward to helping them realize their vision of substantially expanding the reach and scope of their wealth management programs," Bonneau said.

Valley National is a subsidiary of Valley National Bancorp, which has more than $19 billion in assets. The bank operates 224 branches in New Jersey, New York and Florida. It previously used Raymond James as its third-party broker dealer.

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