Morgan Stanley Loses $10.8 Mln Group in Texas, Three More Boca Teams
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management lost two teams from a leaky Florida branch on Friday to Wells Fargo Advisors, as well as a $6 billion-asset group in Texas who set up an independent advisory firm affiliated with Dynasty Financial Partners.
A spokeswoman at the wirehouse, whose chief executive James Gorman recently boasted about Morgan Stanley’s broker-retention prowess, confirmed the departures.
The firm’s South Federal Highway branch in Boca Raton bid adieu to Eric J. Brief, a 26-year industry veteran who left for Wells Fargo & Co.’s private client group’s Town Center branch in Boca on Friday, according to registration records. He generated $1.5 million in fee-based revenue over the past year, according to a person familiar with his book.
Also departing the Boca branch for the Wells office were the father-and-son team of J. Richard and R. Kyle Stewart, who jointly produced $1.3 million in the past 12 months, the source said.
The advisors’ Morgan Stanley-to-Wells path in Boca followed the same route taken in February by the $1.5 million team of Steven A. Rodman and Robert A. DeBlasio.
Wells in the past few months has fattened signing bonuses and continues to offer premium rates to recruiters as it seeks to replace some 1,200 brokers that have left its standalone, bank-branch and independent offices amid the fake-account scandals that erupted more than two-and-a-half years ago.
Morgan Stanley, for its part, has been on an experienced-advisor recruiting pull-back for more than a year. To keep its 15,700-advisor force in solid formation and to preemptively staunch departures from brokers whose forgivable loans matured earlier this year, the firm in late 2017 left the Protocol for Broker Recruiting and has also been bulking up its teams with trainees.
But the retention effort appears to have had mixed success with brokers and with veteran branch managers.
In Houston on Friday, a seven-broker team led by Jason Fertitta hung up a shingle for their new registered investment advisory firm Americana Partners. The team—which also includes Ben Athens, Billy Busch, Sheldon Busch, Josh Caltrider, Johnathan Schnitzer and Robert Wellington, had been overseeing $6 billion in client assets, according to Dynasty Financial Partners, the platform coordinator and financing firm that facilitated the move.
The Fertitta team produced $10.8 million in fees and commissions over the past 12 months, said a person familiar with their practice.
The Morgan Stanley Boca branch two weeks ago also lost the father-and-son team of Marc F. and Jason Strasser to Ameriprise Financial Services’s employee channel, as well as $2-million producer William Dagistino Jr. to Raymond James.
Fertitta, who a Dynasty spokeswoman said is unrelated to former Merrill Lynch Texas divisional head Vincent Feritta, said in a prepared statement that his team—which has kept some advisors’ brokerage licenses through affiliation with independent broker-dealer Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments—expects more flexibility as registered investment advisors.
“We will now be able to expand our client offering in a number of ways, including providing our clients access to comprehensive family office services, unique investment opportunities and the ability to source our clients’ capital markets and credit needs across multiple firms,” he said.F
Fertitta began his brokerage career at a high-net-worth unit of Lehman Brothers, according to his complaint-free BrokerCheck history.
The Strassers generated around $1.2 million in combined fees and commissions in the past year, said a person familiar with their move. Marc had four customer complaints prior to 2005, two of which were settled, one of which was denied and another that resulted in a $10,000 arbitration award in 1991. Marc Strasser declined to comment on his move to Ameriprise.
Brief had been with Morgan Stanley and predecessor firms Smith Barney and Dean Witter for 19 years, according to his unmarked BrokeCheck history, and began his brokerage career in 1992 with Sanford C. Bernstein.
Richard Stewart was with Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers since January 1986, according to his BrokerCheck history. He first registered as a broker with Raymond James in 1985. He had accumulated five customer complaints throughout his career. All were filed prior to 2009, and four were denied or closed with no action, according to BrokerCheck. His son had spent his entire career with Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney in Boca, beginning in 2004. He has a clean BrokerCheck record.
None of the brokers who joined Wells responded to requests for comment.