Tower 68 Financial Advisors in the News

Originally published by AdvisorHub on August 10, 2021 

$5.5-Mln Oppenheimer Broker Jumps Early to LPL After Word of Move Leaks

by Mason Braswell

In a testament to the challenges that brokers face in trying not to tip off their employers ahead of a planned departure, an Oppenheimer broker in Newport Beach, California, was eased out on Friday after the firm caught wind of his impending exit, according to a source familiar with the move.

Kenneth South, a 36-year industry veteran, accelerated his move and had joined LPL Financial by Monday, according to the source and BrokerCheck registration records. South, who was said to have been one of Oppenheimer’s largest producers in California, confirmed the move in a prepared statement and said he managed a roughly $550 million book that threw off around $5.5 million in fees and commissions annually.

“We have been planning and preparing for our transition to LPL for several months,” South said in the statement, which did not directly address the source’s claims about an early exit. “We are excited about this next chapter in our business and look forward to serving our clients from our new office.”

South, whose former team bio says he spends his spare time surfing, is calling his new practice Tower 68 Financial Advisors, a reference to the numbered lifeguard towers along Los Angeles beaches. He moved along with two client associates, Rich Dougherty and Peter Jones, and joined LPL’s year-old Strategic Wealth Services channel that provides additional marketing and operational support in exchange for a flat fee.

A spokesman for Oppenheimer did not return a request for comment. 

At Oppenheimer, South had been part of a six-person team called The South Group that included three other advisors, John D. Mann, Michael Legaspi Jr., and Mark J. Roman, and two client associates, according to a former team page that was no longer active on Tuesday. Reached at South’s former Oppenheimer branch, Mann confirmed the rest of the team stayed behind but declined further comment.

South, who had joined Oppenheimer in 2006 after being fired from Smith Barney, is joined at the new practice by Steven Arcos, a former Oppenheimer Los Angeles-area branch manager. Arcos, a 21-year Oppenheimer vet, had left in February to join B. Riley Wealth Management but exited after seven months to co-found Tower 68, according to his LinkedIn.

Arcos did not return a request for comment. The manager of Oppenheimer’s Newport Beach branch, Michael C. Casey, who joined Oppenheimer in 2017 in the aftermath of a hedge fund investment that went awry at the Merrill Lynch Las Vegas complex he had managed, also did not return a request for comment.

South started his career at E.F. Hutton in 1985 and has nine ‘disclosure’ events on his BrokerCheck record. Eight are customer complaints, including five that were denied and three that were settled. The most recent, a claim of unauthorized trading from January, was denied by Oppenheimer, according to BrokerCheck.

The ninth is South’s termination from Smith Barney, then a part of Citigroup, in 2006 for mismarking sales of Citigroup stock in customer advisory accounts as unsolicited, according to BrokerCheck. The broker said the trades resulted in no client complaint or customer harm.

Oppenheimer had 1,004 brokers at the end of June, down 2% from 1,029 a year ago, according to its most recent earnings report.

LPL served 19,114 independent brokers at the end of June, up 1,442 from the end of the first quarter and up 2,141 year over year, according to the company’s results.




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