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Written by 9:14 pm Blog, Securities Fraud Articles

Slow Transfer Year in Securities Industry

According to the InvestmentNewsAdvisers on the Move database, the wealth management division of UBS Financial Services Inc. added the most new advisers (74) and the greatest amount of assets ($11.6 billion) among firms in the database — this despite persistent rumors the division might be sold. UBS Financial also saw 67 advisers managing $7.6 billion leave the firm, giving it a net addition of seven advisers and $4 billion in assets, according to the database.

The Advisers on the Move database, which is representative of a considerable sample of overall recruiting activity in the industry, does not include all data on advisers moving within the industry and is based on recruiting moves that have been made public. However, the database indicated that at least 544 financial advisers changed firms over the 12-month period ended March 31.

Those advisers had $76.8 billion in combined client assets at the time of their departures.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC saw the most advisers (110, managing $14 billion in assets) leave over the past 12 months, IN’s data showed. Three of the 10 biggest departures as measured by AUM were from Morgan Stanley, including two three-person teams that joined UBS, and Alan Harter, an adviser who came to the firm via the Smith Barney acquisition. Mr. Harter launched his own advisory firm, Pactolus Private Wealth Management, this year.

MSSB also added 53 new advisers who managed $9.2 billion at their former firms. Per the firm’s year-end disclosures, MSSB’s total rep count stood at 18,043 at the end of 2010, down 1%, or 92 total reps, from a year earlier. It still ranks as the largest brokerage force in the industry.

Recruiters say that movement of advisers within the industry is way down from what it was in turbulent 2009.

Emerging firms in the industry were involved in some of the largest adviser moves in the last year. Advisory firm CapTrust Financial Advisors hauled in the biggest catch when it recruited John Pickett and two associates from RBC Wealth Management last June. Mr. Pickett managed $8.5 billion in assets at RBC. CapTrust also opened a Des Moines, Iowa, office last December after it brought in a four-person advisory team from Holmes Murphy & Associates that manages $1 billion in assets.

The most publicized adviser move of the last year involved another industry upstart —Michael Brown‘s departure from Bank of America, U.S. Trust Wealth Management to Dynasty Financial Partners. He managed nearly $6 billion at the Bank of America Corp. unit.

Not surprisingly, his leaving caused a stir.

Initially, BofA filed suit to stop Mr. Brown from soliciting clients. Later, the bank settled the matter. But the defection prompted the parent company to tighten restrictions on advisers who plan to exit the U.S. Trust unit. Those curbs including putting departing employees on garden leave.

Barclay’s Wealth, the wealth management unit of Barclay’s PLC focused on ultrahigh-net-worth clients, was involved in three of the 10 largest recruiting moves, according to the IN database. The firm, which acquired much of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s wealth management assets in the U.S. two years ago, is aggressively hiring high-end advisers from the wirehouses and private-banking operations.

Mr. Elzweig expects that wirehouse advisers contemplating moves — whether to other wirehouses or to independent firms — will feel more confident about doing so this year.

The biggest reason for the relative lack of movement in the industry last year was the retention bonuses paid out by three of the four major wirehouses at the beginning of 2010. With Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney needing to retain their top advisers after difficult mergers, both offered awards of from 30% to 75% of trailing-12-month gross to producers of $500,000 or more, said Mr. Elzweig. UBS Financial Services Inc. followed suit. Wells Fargo Advisors LLC was the only wirehouse not to institute a new bonus program.

It should be noted that the Advisers on the Move database tends to have more information on firms that actively publicize new recruits.

Merrill Lynch, for example, generally does not disclose new hires, said company spokeswoman Selena Morris. The departing advisers, on the other hand, are typically announced by firms that hire them: meaning that InvestmentNews has more information on Merrill’s departing advisers (55 over the last 12 months) and less on its incoming ones.

The White Law Group often represents financial advisors in promissory note litigation resulting from the transfer from one firm to another.  If you have a question about a promissory note that you owe to your previous employer, please feel free to contact the firm at 312-238-9650.

The White Law Group, LLC is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, investor protection, and securities regulation/compliance law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida.

For more information on The White Law Group, please visit our website at https://whitesecuritieslaw.com.

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