Morgan Stanley’s Sullivan Group Goes Independent

Another advisory group braves the frontiers of being an independent firm.

Managing Partners Sean Lehmann and Kurt Halverstadt today announced The Sullivan Group is now an independent investment advisory firm providing investment and retirement services in the Sacramento, California, region.

Lehmann and Halverstadt managed The Sullivan Group while it was most recently at Morgan Stanley and previously at Wachovia Securities. The team managed or advised combined assets of more than half a billion dollars. In 2007, The Sullivan Group bolted from Wachovia, according to news reports.

Now the team is leaving the wirehouse model behind, in an effort to distance themselves from Wall Street conglomerates amid the financial crisis, the firm said. “Our move to become independent is based on our desire to represent the best interests of our clients,” said Lehmann. “As independent advisers, we offer our clients transparency and objective advice, free from conflicts of interest often experienced by wirehouse stockbrokers.”   

Two junior associates will not be part of the new firm, the company said.

The firm will custody clients’ assets with Schwab Institutional and will sometimes offer investments through Albany, New York-based Pursche Kaplan Sterling Investments (PKS), utilizing the clearing services of National Financial Services.

Schwab has reported an uptick in advisory firms going independent this year (see “Schwab White Paper Outlines Case for Joining RIA”). While it represents a real trend, Cerulli Associates has noted that it still represents a minority of advisory firms (see “Wirehouses Feel Some Threat of Independents”).