Our History

A history of legacy and tradition that paved a path to a successful future

Girard is a firm with a rich history dating back to 1974 when Richard Woltman, Girard’s founder, started First Affiliated Securities, one of the nations first independent broker/dealers. More than another securities firm, First Affiliated was an entirely new business model and forever changed the landscape of the financial services industry.

After First Affiliated was sold in 1986, Mr. Woltman and his wife Kaye acquired Spelman and Co., along with Girard. At the time, Spelman was a small firm with 5 employees that specialized in selling municipal securities. Girard was acquired as a vehicle to underwrite municipal bonds and distribute them to the Spelman clients.

Girard’s history begins in 1974, with roots in one of the nations first independent broker/dealers

Building a Strong Foundation

Always the entrepreneur, Mr. Woltman began expanding the small firm and soon they were a national sales organization. Continuing with that growth, in 1988 Sentra Securities was acquired, and the combination proved successful. Spelman’s niche was supporting fixed income and equity oriented representatives, Sentra’s focus was supporting independent representatives with financial planning practices, and Girard maintained an institutional niche. The underlying appeal of all three firms was the culture, which was built on the shared values of honesty, integrity, forthrightness and striving to doing the right thing. Together with the way the Woltman’s always put their relationship with the representatives first, the firm grew and succeeded within a culture of a very personal family-run business.

With revenues of $100 million and over 1,000 financial advisors, SunAmerica/AIG acquired Sentra and Spelman in 1998. Girard was not a party to the transaction due to its institutional business model. In 2001 Sentra and Spelman were consolidated into SunAmerica Securities, at which point Woltman’s daughter Susie decided to leave SunAmerica and follow in her father’s footsteps. With a vision learned from her father’s successes of building a firm based on the values of honesty, integrity and forthrightness, one that would deeply value relationships with advisors and champion a culture of a family-run business, Susie launched Girard securities.

Growth, the Hallmark of Girard

Between 2002 and 2015, the firm grew from 1 advisor and $1 million in revenues, to 250 advisors and $50 million in revenues. Susie cultivated a reputation within Girard as a trusted partner with advisors, and many built successful careers along with Girard’s growth. Over time, the financial services industry evolved and as trends emerged that signaled a fundamental shift in the broker/dealer business model. The Woltman’s recognized that for Girard and its legacy to be preserved, it was necessary to join forces with a national firm.

A New Partnership Forms, Guiding Girard to the Future

With changing client and advisor demographics, rapidly changing technology, expanding regulations and new forms of technology-based competition, the Woltman’s searched for the right partner. Girard sought a large firm with the experience, reputation and resources to succeed in the rapidly evolving financial services marketplace, while Girard could focus on supporting its advisors and their businesses through their legacy of loyalty, honesty, integrity and unparalleled customer service.

In 2015, Girard joined forces with Cetera Financial Group. As a condition of the partnership, Girard’s leadership team stayed in place and the firm remained an independent broker/dealer. A perfect fit for Girard, Cetera Financial Group wasn’t interested in consolidating firms but empowering them to operate with existing leadership, culture and unique brand.

And of course, Cetera Financial Group brought serious power to the partnership through expansive resources that include Wealth Management, Business Consulting, Marketing, Technology and Professional Development One key benefit of Girard joining Cetera Financial Group has been our ability to shape our partnership to the best advantage of our firm and our advisors. As we sought to quickly and efficiently provide comprehensive access to all of Cetera Financial Group’s technology platforms, tools and resources, it became apparent that the most expeditious way to do so was for Girard to join one of the Cetera firms that had all the offerings in place.

Of all the Cetera firms there was one that stood out as the perfect partner, Cetera Advisor Networks (CAN). With its regional model that would ensure Girard’s core leadership team could continue to service, support and guide its advisors through the various cycles of their businesses, CAN proved to be the perfect partner.

Girard Becomes a Region of Cetera Advisor Networks

In late 2017, Girard officially became a region of Cetera Advisor Networks. Immediately, the advisors had access to the following industry-leading programs and services:

  • Award-winning practice management platform and team
  • Elite marketing platform & and consulting team
  • Wealth Management University advisor training program & and wealth consulting
  • Retirement plan administration & and consulting
  • Research and investment insights and consulting, including client-approved commentaries
  • Consultative approach to compliance & and regulatory guidance
  • Succession planning, merger and acquisitions assistance and continuity planning
  • Comprehensive portfolio management tools with direct access to a number of investment vehicles, managers, products and strategies