Ameriprise Financial is the successor to American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA), a former subsidiary of the American Express Company. In 2005, American Express spun off AEFA as an independent company. AEFA's new name, Ameriprise Financial, Inc. came into effect August 1, 2005, and the spin-off transaction closed on September 30, 2005.
Ameriprise Financial began life as Investors Syndicate in 1894. Here are a few of the company's key milestones:
1925 - West Coast businessman J.R. Ridgway, Sr. merges his investment firm with Investors Syndicate, takes over as President.
1937 - Upon the death of then 50 year-old J.R. Ridgway Sr. from leukemia, 23 year-old J.R. Ridgway, Jr. is appointed President.
1940 - Investors Syndicate introduces one of the first mutual funds, the Investors Mutual Fund, giving clients new investing options and two advantages: diversification and professional management. By the 1960s, Investors Mutual Fund is the largest balanced mutual fund in the world.
1949 - Investors Syndicate changes its name to Investors Diversified Services, Inc. (IDS)
1958 - IDS founds the Investors Syndicate Life Insurance and Annuity Company (now known as RiverSource Life Insurance Company)
1974 - the IDS Centre (now IDS Center) is opened in downtown Minneapolis as the company's headquarters
1979 - Ridgway family sells off last of its ownership interest. IDS became a wholly owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation pursuant to a merger.
1984 - American Express completes acquisition of IDS Financial Services from Alleghany Corporation; company renamed as American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA)
1986 - IDS acquires Wisconsin Employers Casualty Company of Green Bay and renames it IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company
1994 - IDS reaches $100 billion in assets and conducts business under the American Express brand
2011 - Ameriprise Financial takes its proprietary Dream > Plan > Track > approach to Financial Planning to consumers in India
Ameriprise Financial is the largest financial planning company in the United States and is among the 25 largest asset managers in the world. It is ranked 246 in the 2011 Fortune 500.
Ameriprise Financial is in wealth management and retirement planning in the U.S. and also works as an asset manager with global business.
Wealth Management and Retirement
Ameriprise Financial specializes in retirement-related financial planning for relatively well-off clients. As of December 31, 2010, the company has about three-million clients and $672.7 billion in owned, managed and administered assets worldwide. The company offers variable annuities and life and disability insurance. It also operates Ameriprise Bank, FSB which offers a variety of consumer banking and lending products and personal trust and related services.
Ameriprise Financial received publicity for moving more quickly than some other full-service wealth management firms to develop social media for its advisors and investors, e.g. via LinkedIn.
Ameriprise Financial operates two complementary asset management platforms: Columbia Management in the U.S. and Threadneedle internationally. The company reported as having $436 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2011, placing it eighth in long-term mutual fund assets in the U.S., fourth in retail funds in the U.K. and 27th in global assets under management.
The company uses three principal brands for its businesses in the United States: Ameriprise Financial, Columbia Management and RiverSource. The Threadneedle brand is used for its international asset manager’s products.
Ameriprise Financial Services
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a financial planning and retail distribution subsidiary which operates under the Ameriprise Financial brand name, is a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser. It has an integrated model of comprehensive and personalized financial planning, diversified product manufacturing and affiliated and unaffiliated distribution through its network of financial advisors and registered representatives. The retail products and services that use the Ameriprise Financial brand include those that the company provides through its affiliated advisors (e.g., financial planning, investment advisory accounts, retail brokerage services and banking products) and products and services that it markets directly to consumers (e.g., personal auto and home insurance).
This is the primary brand for the company's U.S. asset management products and services, including retail and institutional asset management products. Following the completion of the acquisition of the long-term asset management business of the Columbia Management Group from Bank of America in April 2010, the company combined RiverSource Investments, its legacy U.S. asset management business, with Columbia Management, under the Columbia Management brand.
This is the brand for the company's annuities products and for the protection products issued by the RiverSource Life companies, including life and disability income insurance products.
Sale of Securities America
Securities America Financial Corporation’s roots go back to Financial Dynamics, an insurance marketing organization founded in 1984 by Steve Wild that had between 10,000 and 12,000 independent insurance agents affiliated with the firm. Financial Dynamics created Securities America, an independent securities broker/dealer, to use its insurance sales force to offer investments. Securities America Advisors Inc., an SEC-registered Investment Advisory firm, was founded in 1993 to offer investment management, financial advice and financial planning through a national network of independent financial advisors. In 1998, Securities America was acquired by American Express. In October 2005, after Ameriprise Financial's spin-off from American Express, Securities America became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial, but continued to operate independently as a Nebraska-based broker/dealer and serving independent financial advisers across the country. Securities America acquired Brecek & Young Advisors, a California-based broker/dealer, and its subsidiary, Iron Point Capital Management, from Security Benefit Corp. of Topeka, Kansas. Securities America had received the inaugural Practitioner Thought Leadership Award from the Retirement Income Industry Association in March 2011, and was ranked as the seventh largest independent broker-dealer based on total revenues in the U.S., according to a June 2011 Financial Planning Magazine survey.
On April 25, 2011, Ameriprise announced that it is trying to find an "appropriate buyer" for Securities America Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries. Ameriprise said that this move will independent allow Securities America advisors and registered representatives who conduct business without utilizing the Ameriprise brand “to focus on growth opportunities in the independent channel.” In November 2011, Ameriprise completed the sale of Securities America to Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services for $150 million in cash and potential future payments. Ameriprise claimed that selling this independent broker-dealer allows Ameriprise to focus its efforts on servicing and developing its branded advisor network.
Threadneedle Asset Management Holdings
Threadneedle Asset Management Holdings SARL is a Luxembourg-based holding company for the Threadneedle group of companies and a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial which provides investment management products and services to clients in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Though acquired by Ameriprise Financial in 2003, Threadneedle operates as an independent international asset manager, under its own brand name, management organization and operating, compliance and technology infrastructure. Threadneedle primarily provides international investment products and services, and Ameriprise Financial, through an arrangement with Threadneedle, offers certain international and U.S. equity strategies to its U.S. clients.
In 2008, Threadneedle acquired Invesco Perpetual's full service defined contribution pension business with total assets of £470m, followed by acquisition of Standard Chartered Bank’s World Express Funds investment funds business in 2009, the latter providing Threadneedle with an established Luxembourg-based SICAV platform with over US$2.38 billion worth assets under management as at April 30, 2009. In August 2011 it was announced that Threadneedle would acquire the investment assets of LV= amounting to some £8 billion. At December 31, 2010, Threadneedle had $105.6 billion in managed assets worldwide, and was expanding distribution of its institutional products in Europe, Asia, U.S., Middle East and Australia.
In early 2012, Ameriprise announced that it had begun offering retail financial planning and distribution services in India through its subsidiary, Ameriprise India Private Limited. Ameriprise has also established an insurance brokerage entity in India that is licensed to deal in insurance products by India’s Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). Ameriprise India has established offices in Delhi, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Mumbai & Pune, with a plan to expand to other Indian metro areas in the future. As with its U.S. financial planning business, Ameriprise India provides holistic financial planning services through its trained advisor force. Fees are received for delivering financial plans; however, Ameriprise India does not currently sell affiliated investment or insurance products, instead refers clients who elect to implement their financial plan to third-party product manufacturers to purchase recommended investment and/or insurance products.
Acquisitions & Restructuring
In September 2009, Ameriprise Financial acquired Columbia Management, the long-term asset management business of Bank of America, for U.S. $1 billion.
In 2012, Ameriprise Financial announced the purchase of the Starwood Luxury Collection propertyHotel Ivy and restaurant. The Company had earlier purchased Oak Ridge Hotel and Conference Center in Chaska, MN, which is used as a training and meeting facility, as well as to rent out to the public.
In January 2013, Ameriprise Financial completed the conversion of its federal savings bank subsidiary, Ameriprise Bank, FSB, to a limited powers national trust bank, which conversion included changing the name of this subsidiary to Ameriprise National Trust Bank.
Ameriprise Financial's headquarters is located at 55 Ameriprise Financial Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55474.
It maintains executive offices at 7 World Trade Center, New York, New York 10007.
Its offices in Wall Street, New York provides portfolio management, banking, marketing and various support functions.
Ameriprise Financial's employee and franchised financial advisor branch offices are located throughout the United States.
As of December 31, 2011, Ameriprise Financial reported as having more than 9,700 branded advisors, the fifth largest branded advisor force in the U.S. Ameriprise Financial advisors recommend actions and a broad range of products consisting of investment, annuity, insurance, banking and other financial products to clients based on an appropriate range and level of risk. The financial advisors charge clients for financial advice and selling products. There are four ways the financial advisors affiliate with Ameriprise Financial:
Approximately 60% of Ameriprise's financial advisors are independent contractorfranchisees — they are not employed by Ameriprise, but are licensed registered representatives of Ameriprise and do not receive a salary from the parent company.
About one quarter of financial advisors are employed by Ameriprise ("employee financial advisors"). Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. has the largest number of these professionals among any retail advisory force. The majority of the employee advisors work in local offices like their franchisee counterparts.
Over 120 of the employee advisors work within the corporate office in Minneapolis as part of the Ameriprise Advisor Center (AAC). These Advisors are fully licensed Securities and Insurance professionals that have received additional training which allows them to assist clients exclusively by telephone. They are required to hold the Series 7 and Series 63Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licenses, along with insurance licenses in all states they serve, and are encouraged to acquire their Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) professional designation from the College of Financial Planning, and are reimbursed for the cost.
The company also has associate Financial Advisors, employed by the independent contractor franchisees.
Many Ameriprise advisors are Certified Financial Planners, and the company actively encourages attaining this designation. Many advisors also hold similar designations such as the CLU or ChFC.
Awards & accolades
A few awards and recognition received by Ameriprise Financial are as follows:
Ranked as the 67th best place to launch a career in a 2009 national survey by BusinessWeek.
Criticism & controversy
Securities America was fined $5.4 million in 2003 for letting a broker work under a false name in its Orlando office and allegedly make bogus investments. In 2005, Ameriprise agreed to pay a $12.3 million to settle NASD charges relating to favorable treatment allegedly given to some mutual funds in exchange for brokerage business.
In mid-2005, the State of New Hampshire reached a $7.4 million settlement with American Express Financial Advisors, alleging the company had violated the law by rewarding their financial advisers for recommending underperforming in-house mutual funds to clients.
Also in 2005, Ameriprise Financial entered into a $15 million settlement with the SEC for charges of market timing. The Minnesota Department of Commerce levied $2 million in fines for similar market timing violations. The National Association of Securities Dealers fined Ameriprise an additional $12.3 million for unsuitable share sales. Ameriprise, having become a separate company, had not revealed which funds were timed, or the names of the people involved and the exact nature of the disciplinary action taken. Morningstar temporarily reduced the stewardship grade for Ameriprise's funds, although it did not impact the fund's overall star ratings from that firm.
In 2006, the NASD threatened to suspend the company for failing to pay an arbitration award to a former broker.
In September 2006, Securities America reached a $16.3 million settlement with a group of Exxon Mobil Corp. retirees for failing to supervise an associated broker.
On July 11, 2007, the NASD fined Securities America $375,000 for improperly sharing directed brokerage commissions from a mutual fund company with a former Securities America broker. Another NASD arbitration panel awarded $9.3 million to three retired American Airlines pilots against Securities America and a formerly associated broker for allegedly mishandling their savings. Other airline pilots have arbitration claims pending.
On July 10, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced an enforcement action against Ameriprise for receiving millions of dollars in undisclosed revenue sharing as a condition for selling certain real estate investment trusts (REITs) to its brokerage customers. Ameriprise agreed to pay $17.3 million to settle the SEC's charges, however the period in which SEC states the violations took place were prior to the spinoff from American Express.
On April 15, 2011, Securities America, Inc. (SAI) and its holding company, Securities America Financial Corporation, entered into settlement agreements related to the sale of private placement securities issued by Medical Capital and Provident Royalties that resulted in a $118 million pre-tax charge in the first quarter of 2011. The charge is in addition to a $40 million pre-tax charge in the fourth quarter of 2010.