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 Anchorage-based 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 Barron’s and other publications’ state recognition polls for several years, did not immediately return a call for comment on their decision to leave Wells for Baird. They had each worked at Wells and predecessor firms for more than 30 years.
“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,” he said, noting their vetting of Baird’s technology, product platform and commitment to their practice. “The big issue for them was culture, including the fact that this firm has an excellent reputation.”
The consumer banking account scandals at Wells Fargo Bank that have captured national headlines for the past year have disturbed some wealth management customers, according to several Wells Fargo Advisors brokers. The Alaska team was particularly upset about growing intrusions by compliance and legal staff on their daily activities in servicing clients in the wake of the scandal, said people familiar with their practice.
A Wells spokeswoman declined to comment.
In a sign of Baird’s enthusiasm about the new hires, Michael Schroeder, president of its Private Wealth Management unit, 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 was expected 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 a change that will allow top brokers to retain 50% of all commissions and fees they produce without having to meet monthly production hurdles at a lower payout that apply to other brokers.