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Ameriprise execs say Q4'16 adviser turnover mostly among lower producers

Ameriprise Financial Inc. saw a bit of an increase in turnover at the adviser level in the fourth quarter of 2016, but executives said the company is weeding out lower producers and noted that it posted a "record year" for bringing in larger practices.

Ameriprise had 9,675 advisers in its workforce at year-end 2016, compared with 9,747 a quarter earlier.

Chairman and CEO James Cracchiolo said on a conference call to discuss earnings that the company did not see any "significant" pickup in terms of retirements or advisers moving elsewhere. He also told analysts and investors that the company is focused on bringing in higher-producing advisers.

Management also touted what it said were successful advertising efforts during 2016. Cracchiolo said the company's "Be Brilliant" campaign led to the highest brand awareness the company has ever experienced, and it is particularly resonating with mass-affluent and affluent investors.

On the regulatory front, Ameriprise continues to prepare for the implementation of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, which goes into effect April 1. Executives said spending on those efforts will continue at its present pace through the first quarter, but that could change if the rule is delayed or altered.

Beyond the first quarter, the "level of expense will be fluid until there is more clarity," CFO Walter Berman said.