Morgan Stanley Loses $644 Mln-Asset Team to Stifel
A six-broker team in Illinois left Morgan Stanley on Friday for Stifel Nicolaus & Co., the second big team to leave the wirehouse for a regional firm in as many weeks.
The brokers, whose origins began at Smith Barney and its Lehman Brothers predecessor, were overseeing about $644 million in client assets, said a person familiar with their decision. They remain based in Bourbonnais, a village about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.
A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley confirmed the departures of advisors Zachary Birkey, Ronald Ouwenga, Jeff Schimmelpfennig, Myron Hendrix, Brian P. Thomas and Michael J. Bruner, but declined to discuss the size of their books or whether the firm is considering legal action.
After Morgan Stanley left the Protocol for Broker Recruiting that allows brokers to join other Protocol firms with rudimentary client-contact information in hand last November, it filed an initial rash of courtroom restraining orders and Finra arbitrations to enforce non-solicitation agreements but has eased legal filings in recent months.
With last week’s hire, Stifel has signed 10 brokers from Morgan Stanley since its Protocol exit, the source said. Morgan Stanley, for its part, has been experiencing a slow outflow of brokers after an initial freeze on movement following the Prexit decision. Three brokers producing around $3 million and overseeing around $475 million of customer money joined Raymond James Financial on August 31.
The Illinois team, which has marketed itself as The Heartland Group, joined forces in 2016, according to their former Morgan Stanley website. None of the brokers returned requests for comment.
The team had for several years toyed with joining Ziegler Wealth Management, the 55-broker Chicago-based wealth division of Ziegler Asset Management, the source said. Stifel bought the Ziegler wealth business in March.
Birkey continues his role as manager of the team’s Bourbonnais branch. A broker for 11 years, he entered the securities industry with UVEST Financial Services in 2007 and shifted to Smith Barney that same year, according to BrokerCheck. Morgan Stanley began absorbing Smith Barney through a joint venture and ultimate acquisition in 2009.
Ouwenga, a 15-year industry veteran, began his career at Smith Barney in 2002, while Schimmelpfennig joined the industry and the firm in 2008.
Hendrix has been a broker since joining Shearson Lehman Hutton in 1981, according to his BrokerCheck history. Thomas, a 28-year brokerage industry veteran, joined Lehman at the start of his career in 1990, while Bruner got his start there in 1998.
None of the brokers has a disclosure from customers, regulators or government authorities on their regulatory records.