Minneapolis-based Ameriprise is a financial-planning giant with one of the largest sales forces in the securities business. Its offerings include asset and wealth management, annuities and auto and home insurance. In addition to its distribution through its affiliated financial advisers, the company also uses third-party advisers and affinity relationships. Customers tend to be Main Street investors. Ameriprise advisers mainly target mass affluent clients, those with $100,000 to $1 million in investible assets. In contrast, wirehouses trend toward higher-net-worth clients.
The company was once American Express Co.'s American Express Financial Advisors, but it was spun off in 2005. In 2008, it bought broker H&R Block Financial Advisors and J&W Seligman & Co., a small, family-run asset-management firm known for its tech-investing team. The firm recently bought Bank of America's stock and bond mutual-fund business of its asset-management unit, a move that will transform Ameriprise into the eighth-largest U.S. manager of long-term mutual funds and give its brokers access to Columbia's high-net-worth clients.
Ameriprise Advisor Group, the firm’s traditional brokerage, or employee channel, has about 2,400 advisers. Its independent franchise business has about 7,800 brokers. The firm has seen its share of churn in its adviser ranks. In 2009, Ameriprise recruited more than 500 experienced advisers, mainly from wirehouses. That same year, the total number of advisers declined by 4% to about 12,000 advisers, including those in the employee channel, the franchise channel and the independent subsidiary Securities Americas, which has 1,900 advisers. The departures were primarily low-producing advisers not meeting productivity requirements. The average broker at Ameriprise produces about $300,000 to $500,000 annually, whereas the average at the wirehouses tends to be in the $600,000-to-$800,000 range.
The firm plans to hire about 500 experienced advisers in 2010.
The company's Web site courts experienced financial advisers with a rundown of how it supports their transitions, including details on technology, marketing, training and other services. It also reaches out to new FAs, offering enticements such as training at Ameriprise University.