First Republic Recruits J.P. Morgan Securities’ Mike Lee
(Updated with details of offices Lee managed at J.P. Morgan.)
First Republic is sending another signal of its accelerating effort to hire big-book advisers by hiring a well-known manager and recruiter on the East Coast.
The San Francisco-based bank has recruited Michael S. Lee as managing director and business leader for its New York region’s wealth management offices, according to several well-placed sources. First Republic operates nine such offices in New York and a tenth in Connecticut, according to its website.
Lee, who began his brokerage career in 1988 with Merrill Lynch, has worked at J.P. Morgan Securities as a regional director since early 2009 and has been a key player in helping the legacy Bear Stearns retail brokerage business expand in the New York area, the sources said. As regional director, he supervised five offices with around 300 advisors and support staff.
At First Republic, he will report to Susie Cranston, an executive vice president who focuses on strategic planning and recruiting on the East Coast, the sources said.
Lee, who is on a “garden leave” of several months prior to his official start, did not return calls for comment. A spokeswoman at J.P. Morgan Securities confirmed his departure.
Following a decade at Merrill, Lee worked for another ten-and-a-half years as a manager at Smith Barney prior to joining J.P. Morgan, according to BrokerCheck.
Both First Republic and J.P. Morgan have been revving up their wealth management units to complement their high-end private banking and trust businesses and, in J.P. Morgan’s case, their mass-affluent branch-based businesses. First Republic is said to be offering aggressive deals that can reach 300% of top brokers’ trailing-12-month revenue, according to outside recruiters.
Since the beginning of the year, the California bank company has recruited a Wells Fargo Advisor team in New York with $5.5 million in production, a $4.7 million Wells team in San Diego, and a UBS Financial Services broker in Newport Beach, Cal., who had been producing $2 million.
Merrill Lynch bought First Republic in January 2007 for $1.8 billion to goose its high-net-worth business, but Bank of America quickly sold the firm back to senior executives and a consortium of private equity firms in 2009 after purchasing Merrill.
Wealth management accounted for 14.8% of First Republic Bank’s revenue in 2018, up from 13.6% in 2017, according to its most recent earnings report.