Morgan Stanley Lands $2 Bln Credit Suisse Team; Wells Mourns
(Corrects spelling of Mary DiChristofano’s surname in second paragraph.)
With the sun about to set on Credit Suisse’s retail brokerage business in the Americas, Morgan Stanley nabbed the Swiss bank’s major family office business amid competition from more than a dozen other firms.
Mary DiChristofano, Michael Sakach and James Whitney, who oversee “roughly” $2 billion for very wealthy families, endowments and other institutions, joined Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting Group in Chicago, on Friday, Sakach said in an interview.
“We are the Credit Suisse family office business,” he said, noting that the Zurich-based bank bought the firm then known as Frye-Louis Capital Management in 2001. “Our clients have been with us for a long time.”
The hallmark client of the 11-person team, whose principals have worked together since 1992, remains the Louis family, descendants of JohnsonWax founder S.C. Johnson, he said.
Di Cristofano, Sakach and Whitney, who market themselves as Family Wealth Management, talked with more than 20 potential acquires since Credit Suisse in October said it would close its U.S. brokerage business, according to Sakach.
Credit Suisse will officially shutter the broker-dealer that it calls Credit Suisse Private Banking on March 31, sources at Credit Suisse said. A bank spokeswoman did not respond to a call for comment.
Morgan Stanley previously hired more than two dozen Credit Suisse brokers who service Latin American clients.
Sakach declined to discuss whether his team had considered joining Wells Fargo Advisors, the partner that Credit Suisse recommended for its about-to-be orphaned U.S. brokers.
However, he said Morgan Stanley came out on top in meeting his team’s checklist of about 15 priorities, none of which had to do with compensation
“We have a very difficult business because we provide many services to families, many of whom have lots of assets held away,” he said. “Our business lines up very well with Graystone and its ability to serve clients who have been with us for multiple generations.”
He said he was influenced as well by discussions with Kristina Van Liew, a friend whose Stephan, Van Liew and Oiler group joined Graystone’s Chicago office in January 2015 from Merrill Lynch’s private banking investment group.
Van Liew gave a highly admired presentation at Graystone’s annual conference for advisors in New York earlier this month, even as the unit of about 55 teams specializing in working with foundations, family offices, pension plans and other institutions was announcing major shifts on its executive team.
Another former Credit Suisse broker who joined a midwestern office of Wells Fargo Advisors this year, said capturing the Family Wealth Group is a coup for Morgan Stanley. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he described his own integration into Wells Fargo as “a good result from a sloppy situation.”
As previously reported, Credit Suisse has sued UBS Wealth Management Americas for “raiding” its offices amid the Wells Fargo recruiting efforts and also is withholding deferred pay from many advisors who did not accept offers from Wells.