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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Morgan Stanley announced that it had lower numbers of advisors as of 2012’s third quarter, but with slightly higher financial advisor productivity. WealthManagement.com revealed that the firm now has 16,829 advisors, down 1 percent from the previous quarter and 5 percent from this time the year before.

In comparison, Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch, said that their head counts have stayed flat in the previous quarter. Scott Smith of Cerulli Associates told WealthManagement.com regarding Morgan Stanley that “they’re mucking along, but with 16-17,000 advisors, it’s just tough to recruit to fill natural attrition and retirement.”

In addition, Morgan Stanley said that they were purchasing back Citigroup’s 14 percent share in the company. Morgan Stanley also shed Smith Barney from its name. The Citigroup purchase would be $13.5 billion at 100 percent valuation. The firm also said that it would buy Citigroup’s remaining 35 percent share in the company by 2015.

Morgan Stanley announced that its FAs saw their revenue per advisor go up this quarter. The assets under management per advisor increased from $101 million to $105 million.

James Gorman, the company’s CEO, said that “a key to our future is the increased contribution of our wealth management to our revenue, profitability, returns and funding stability.”

Written by Lisa Swan

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Barclays Wealth is expanding. According to OnWallStreet.com, the company has hired eight new financial advisors in Los Angeles and Chicago in order to expand its business. The new staffers have extensive experience in wealth management.

Chicago has three new team members — David Yaccino, Stuart Buck, and William Scherr – who all worked at Goldman Sachs. They will now work under Chris Williams, who manages Barclay’s Chicago region.

As for Los Angeles, there are several new executives. Audra Lalley and David Garfin are now vice presidents, Lisa Amster and Kevin Monaco are directors, and Mark Lindee is managing director. They will all be reporting to Brian Sears, head of Barclay’s L.A. office. Amster is originally from Goldman Sachs and Lindee is from Wells Fargo. Monaco and Garfin both worked at Credit Suisse Private Banking prior to Barclays Wealth, and Lalley worked at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management.

OnWallStreet.com says that the hiring moves are meant to “bolster” Barclays Wealth’s “expansion strategy” in the United States.

Written by Lisa Swan

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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.

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Bank of America was rated the number one wealth management firm for the second year in a row, according to an article in Investment News.  Bank of America had 1.9 trillion in Assets under Management with 4.2 % change from last year at year end 2010.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was rated the second wealth management firm with 1.6 trillion in assets under management.  UBS was rated number three with 1.6 trillion in assets under management.  Wells Fargo was rated the fourth wealth management firm with 1.4 trillion in assets under management.

According to an article in Investment News, “market gains helped boost assets managed by these banks by 11 percent last year with the top 20 overseeing a combined $ 11.1 trillion, Scorpio said.  The rate of net new money inflows declined on average by almost 19 percent from 2009 and many banks saw margins squeezed, according to Scorpio.”

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