Morgan Stanley Hires Merrill Lifer with $419 Million Book
The wirehouse-to-wirehouse carousel continues to spin as Morgan Stanley hired a Merrill Lynch broker who had spent his entire 30-year career with the “thundering herd” in the wealthy suburbs of Columbus, Ohio.
Joseph Vinciguerra, joined Morgan Stanley in Dublin one week ago along with a client associate, according to his BrokerCheck record. Vinciguerra had been overseeing $419 million in client assets as of January, serving households with an average account size of $3 million, according to a Forbes ranking of best-in-state wealth advisors, which listed him at #73 in Ohio.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed the hire but declined to comment further on the move or recruiting offers.
Morgan Stanley, which pulled out of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting almost three years ago, has reactivated its recruiting activities in recent months. It will extend offers that can reach as high as 300% all-in for top candidates, according to two recruiters who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Morgan Stanley’s been stepping up their efforts of late to cherry-pick high-end producers,” said Mark Elzweig, a New York-based recruiter. “They are in the game with a big checkbook going after big producers.”
Elzweig declined to discuss specific terms of deals, but said Morgan Stanley and other large brokerage firms have had to boost recruiting to offset broker retirements as the average advisor age is well into the 50s.
Morgan Stanley had 15,399 advisors at the end of the second quarter, down by 234 from a year ago. The decline largely reflects fewer candidates in training classes and more veterans retiring, according to company officials.
The firm’s willingness to again write bigger checks comes as “forgivable loan” balances that reflect obligations to new hire dropped to $2.98 billion at the end of last year. That is down 13% year-over-year, and from a peak of over $5.8 billion in 2010, the year after Morgan Stanley bought Smith Barney.
Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman said on an earnings call last week that the company has been “attracting flows and FA talent,” even amid the pandemic.
Morgan Stanley last week added Mark R. Brackett, a Merrill producer generating $1.5 million in annual revenue in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and in late June hired $2.1-million producer Victor Panos in Orlando, Florida and $1.1 million producer John Nicolaus in Coos Bay, Oregon, each from Merrill.
David H. Smith, a $4 million producer from Goldman Sachs in Philadelphia, joined Morgan Stanley in July after a garden leave.
A spokeswoman at Merrill Lynch did not immediately return a request for comment.
In contrast with its wirehouse peers, Merrill has continued a freeze begun three years ago on hiring experienced brokers, focusing instead on improving performance of its existing sales force of around 14,000 and hiring trainees and relatively novice brokers.
A Merrill executive said last week that broker loss is at a “historically low’’ annualized rate of 2.4% based on second-quarter departures. Merrill no longer breaks out its brokers from registered reps working in other parts of Bank of America, its parent company.
In addition to the departure of Vinciguerra last week, Osama Albibi, a 14-year broker in Florida who had generated $1.2 million, left the same day to join Wells Fargo Advisors.
To retain clients of those departing the herd, Merrill is permitting managers to offer enhanced discounts and fee rebates at levels more generous than is traditional, according to company insiders.