Cetera Financial Group is the latest giant broker-dealer to halt the sales of real estate investments. Meanwhile, the network, comprised of 8,000 reps and advisers, is also losing senior staff in its recruiting team, including Michael Murray, Cetera’s head of business development and in charge of bringing new brokers to the firm.
Like its competitors, LPL Financial and Advisor Group, Cetera is pointing to the broad economic damage caused by COVID-19 for putting the brakes on certain less liquid real estate investments, including net asset value real estate investment trusts and interval funds.
Accurate valuations of real estate during the current economic and health crisis is at the heart of Cetera’s decision. Broker-dealers are essentially putting a pause on the sale of such products while the broader commercial real estate market absorbs the shock of the shutdown and its impact on valuations of commercial properties, like office buildings and hotels.
“Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy, Cetera has temporarily suspended sales in certain non-traded real estate based investments, such as NAV REITs and interval funds,” wrote Cetera spokesperson Adriana Senior in an email. “We will continue to monitor and evaluate offering these products.”
It’s not clear whether Murray resigned recently or was let go by Cetera, which hired him away from rival LPL in 2018. An industry source said Cetera had recently parted ways with about a half-dozen senior executives and recruiters. Senior, the Cetera spokesperson, did not respond to questions about job losses at Cetera.
Cuts to senior management is one way a broker-dealer can reduce costs. Cetera has 1,700 home office employees, according to its website.
Industry news website AdvisorHub first reported Murray’s departure from Cetera.