Fidelity Exec David Canter to Join Kestra’s Bluespring Wealth Partners

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Bluespring Wealth Partners, a unit of wealth management firm Kestra that specializes in advisor acquisitions, has landed a marquee hire: longtime Fidelity executive David Canter.

Canter will join the Kestra unit as president in August after the conclusion of his tenure at Fidelity, one of the industry’s larger custodians. Canter will help accelerate Bluespring’s growth, according to the firm, which has acquired roughly two dozen registered investment advisory firms, or RIAs, since its founding three years ago.

“David knows every RIA in the country,” Kestra Financial CEO James Poer tells Barron’s Advisor, adding that Canter’s industry expertise, experience, and emotional intelligence made him an ideal fit for the role. “He can really drive this forward.”

David Canter

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Canter spent nearly 13 years at Fidelity, where he most recently served as head of the RIA custody business. Fidelity Institutional says it administers some $4 trillion as a custodian and services more than 13,500 institutional clients. 

In his new role at Bluespring, Canter will take over day-to-day leadership including M&A, firm strategy, and organic growth, according to the firm. He takes the reins from Stuart Silverman, who will be moving to the newly created role of chairman.

Canter said that he was attracted to the Bluespring role because it presented new career opportunities. “Working in an entrepreneurial environment that prizes the individuality and independence of RIAs and wealth management firms in a supportive environment is energizing,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with our partner firms, the team, and Stuart as we continue to expand the Bluespring footprint.”

Since its launch in 2019, Bluespring has grown to 26 firms, and completed six acquisitions so far this year. In addition to M&A, Bluespring also helps advisors with succession planning, growth strategies, and subacquisitions. 

Kestra executives see more room for expansion. “These [advisory] businesses—and there are thousands of them—are the most valuable asset these advisors have built in their lifetime,” Poer says. “So monetizing them in the right way and finding the right home for their clients is critical.”

Silverman adds that such deals are also about empowering entrepreneurial advisors. “We want to take great businesses and make them even better,” he says.

M&A activity among RIAs has been red hot in recent years due in part to aging baby boomer owners seeking to retire and the highly fragmented nature of the U.S. wealth management sector. There are thousands of small RIAs across the country. Acquisition activity has accelerated thanks to an influx of private equity money. RIA aggregators have also stepped in to scoop up acquisitions. A record 181 deals were announced in the first half of 2022, according to Echelon Partners, a consulting firm.

Though Bluespring is a relatively new business at Kestra, the company has long been in the wealth management business and operates an independent broker-dealer. Kestra Holdings companies collectively oversee $122 billion in assets under administration (AUA) and support more than 2,400 independent financial professionals.

“We really felt that [Bluespring] was a natural extension of our organization,” Poer says. He says he’s known Canter for years through industry events and Kestra’s relationship with Fidelity, which is its primary custodian for client assets.

Bluespring, like Kestra, is based in Austin, Texas. Canter will continue to be based in Boston, but spend much of his time on the road because of the nature of the job, according to Poer and Silverman.

Write to Andrew Welsch at andrew.welsch@barrons.com