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.