A $150 million book of business Wells Fargo promised him never materialized — and then the wirehouse took him to arbitration…..

A wirehouse promises a veteran advisor a $150 million book of business and a $450,000-plus upfront bonus to come on over. The wirehouse resigns the FA’s job for him at his current firm, then e-mails his clients to tell them he’s leaving.

This strange and unusual real-life scenario begins to boarder on the bizarre when the book of business turns out to be only $10 million and five months after the advisor joins the firm, the wirehouse takes the vexed FA to arbitration by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

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Being a financial advisor, especially for sports stars, seems like it would be a dream job. But for two New Jersey advisors, it turned into a real nightmare.

RegisteredRep.com has the story of Steven Kolinksy and Stephen Hill, who once advised a virtual roster of Major League Baseball players, including David Wright, Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, Todd Hundley, and Gregg Jeffries. But the financial advisors’ world was shattered in 2010 when Floyd and White sued the pair for $12.5 million in damages over a $2.5 million New Jersey real estate deal gone bad.

First Sports Illustrated picked up on the story, then the rest of the national press went after Kolinsky and Hill, and then New Jersey regulators from the state’s Bureau of Securities pursued the pair. Both ended up having to pay fines, and Hill’s license was suspended. But some claim that they got tougher treatment because they had disputes with celebrity clients.

“One legal source said it was unusual for the Bureau of Securities in New Jersey, a governmental agency, to take its action in the Kolinksy and Hill case,” RegisteredRep.com reports. “‘What you had here was in my opinion extraordinary,’ said the source. ‘You really only had two people who had sued. It was a private dispute. It wasn’t in the public interest to waste taxpayers dollars.’” The inside source said that “Some would say it was an opportunity for the bureau chief to pander to the press. He got a ton of profile out of the case.”

RegisteredRep.com says that “the case of Kolinsky and his partner illustrates one potential downside of an advisory practice that caters to celebrities: Some reporters are star-struck if the story concerns a famous ballplayer or Academy Award winner. They know that in a culture obsessed with celebrity, stories about stars who’ve been wronged will excite readers.” The article advises financial advisors to “watch your back” when it comes to dealing with celebrity clients.

Written By Lisa Swan


The wirehouses are always on the hunt for top talent.  Experienced Financial Advisors are in demand and have been for some time.  In 2005, the wirehouses employed 57,262 advisors and at the end of March 2011, the wirehouses employed 50,743 advisors.  This represents a 12 % headcount decline over a five- year period.

The number of advisors at the “Big 4” UBS, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch are stagnant at best. They used to poach from each other, but now that retention deals have been put in place and the pools are shrinking, the wirehouses are aggressively recruiting from alternate and multiple sources. Independent brokers, RIAs, brokers from boutique size financial firms, have all been targeted. 

There are vast culture differences that still need to be overcome if the wirehouses plan to continue to recruit the Independent B-Ds. The wirehouses bring less freedom, layers of additional management, less access, and a lower payout. All this needs to be compensated for in the form of a nice “up front” check, and their superior support systems, and protection from regulation.  Is that enough? It is rare to see an independent advisor move to the wirehouse world, according to many recruiters. 

What can the wirehouse do? 

The “Big 4” need positive press, and a lot of it, if they plan on luring brokers from the independent channels.


Citigroup Inc.’s decision to reorganize its wealth management group into four divisions is a step toward averting clashes between financial advisors and private bankers and may attract new talent, recruiters say.

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JP Morgan has unveiled details of the compensation package it has offered Bear Stearns’ advisors, but opinions vary over whether it will be sufficient to retain disgruntled Bear brokers.

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The more things change, the more things stay the same, or so the saying goes. Since On Wall Street‘s last survey, not much has changed in the compensation landscape for regional brokers. It’s certainly not the “slash and burn” environment of last year, which saw massive cuts, particularly to the lowest producers.

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