On the Move: Veteran Citi adviser starts RIA, taps Focus

By Ashley Lau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After 25 years in the brokerage industry, former Citigroup <C.N> adviser Lori Van Dusen is striking out on her own.

The move illustrates a recent surge of experienced brokers going into business for themselves.

Van Dusen and her 10-member team opened shop at their new Rochester, New York-based firm, LVW Advisors, on Monday. The team had been together for more than a decade after forming at Citi Smith Barney in the late 90s.

Large asset groups are streaming into registered investment adviser practices, said Rich Schwarzkopf, a New York-based recruiter with Schwarzkopf Recruiting Services.

"It's probably one of the fastest-growing segments of the financial services industry, Schwarzkopf said. "Their assets have been growing enormously for the past couple of years."


Van Dusen turned to Focus to build up her new firm's technological infrastructure. The partnership also helped LVW source vendors for products, aid in succession planning and offer equity ownership advice.

"I needed to be able to set up shop ... in a way that wasn't distracting," Van Dusen said. "Most advisers are good investment people, but they need guidance in building a business the right way."

Van Dusen, who has about $4.9 billion in assets under management, collectively has about 35 clients with her team and said she expects to retain all of them during the transition. She said her firm is in the process of hiring another adviser to join the team.

"We have a sizable business now and our foremost goal is to retain our clients and keep them happy," she said.

About 50 percent of LVW's clients are institutional, while the other are high-net-worth clients, whose assets range from $10 million up to about $1 billion.

LVW is the 23rd team to join Focus since its start in 2006 and is the sixth transaction for the firm this year.

Focus has largely grown by acquiring independent advisers and teams across the United States.

The firm's vice president Rich Gill told Reuters that Focus has grown about six-fold since he first joined in May 2007. Focus had about $7 billion in assets under management at the time, and now has about $45 billion,

He said Focus does not set targets for asset growth.

"It's really about quality," Focus founder Rudy Adolf said in an interview. "If we don't grow that much in a particular year, but the deals we do are very good, we'd prefer to have quality than just growth."

(Reporting by Ashley Lau; Editing by Chelsea Emery)