Baird Scores $5-Million Mega-team from Wells Fargo
One of Wells Fargo Advisors longest-serving and highest-producing teams joined Robert W. Baird on Thursday, opening the Milwaukee-based firm’s first outpost in Alaska.
Led by Margaret “Maggie” Price, the nine members of The Planning Group of the Northwest had been overseeing more than $1 billion for individual clients, families and small pension funds at Wells, a Baird spokeswoman confirmed. The team, whose senior partners also include advisors Sarah Springer and Grant Shearer, has generated about $5.2 million of commissions and fees for Wells Fargo in the past 12 months, according to two people familiar with their practice.
Price, who along with her recently retired partner Wayne Pichon have been ranked at or near the top of Alaska’s and some national Top Broker polls by Barron’s and other publications for several years, did not immediately return a call for comment on their decision to leave Wells and join Baird, which is not known as an aggressive recruiting firm.
“Baird has historically been the lowest recruiting bonus on the Street, some people would say by a factor of a third,” said Steve Binder, a managing director who runs the firm’s Colorado region that will now include Alaska. “We made no special deals, but I’ve known some of the principals for years and it boiled down to us trusting each other. They didn’t come for the package.”
He described the team’s due diligence as breathtaking. “They are very smart and didn’t leave a stone unturned” regarding vetting of Baird’s technology, product platform and its commitment to their practice, he said. “The big issue for them was culture, including the fact that this firm has an excellent reputation.”
Some veteran Wells advisors have said that the company’s consumer banking account scandals that have captured national headlines for the past year have disturbed some wealth management customers. The Alaska team was particularly concerned with what they felt was growing intrusions by compliance and legal staff on their daily activities in servicing clients, said people familiar with their practice.
A Wells spokeswoman declined to comment.
In a sign of Baird’s enthusiasm about the new hires, Baird’s Private Wealth Management President Michael Schroeder and its chief operating officer Scott Falk flew to Alaska to welcome the team, Binder said.
Baird, an employee-owned firm, has about 860 brokers in 83 offices, primarily in the Midwest.
The Alaska team’s move occurred a few hours before Wells plans to announce its 2018 compensation plan for its private client group brokers. Based on their production and other criteria, the team would likely have qualified for Wells Advisors’ decision to allow top brokers to be retain 50% of all commissions and fees they produce without having to meet a monthly production hurdle.