One Wells Team Splits to Start RIA, Another Joins Regional D.A. Davidson
Wells Fargo Advisors continues to see brokers hit the exits as two teams with a combined $800 million in client assets left on Friday.
In Wells Advisors’ backyard in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Missouri, a five-person team led by Brian I. Pultman left to start their own registered investment advisory firm, Correct Capital Wealth Management, Pultman confirmed in an interview.
Pultman, a 25-year brokerage veteran, along with advisors John Biedenstein and Megan Elizabeth “Maggie” Badolato and two client associates, had been managing some $600 million in client assets, according to a release. They generated $3.2 million in annual revenue and focused on corporate 401(k)s and retirement planning with Wells private client group, he said.
The group had been planning their move for about a year, according to Pultman, who started at A.G. Edwards and stayed through successive mergers with Wachovia and ultimately Wells Fargo.
“Twenty-five years, three different signs on my building and many managers coming and going,” he reflected. “I saw the top advisors going independent and realized if I really wanted to act in my clients’ best interest, I better move sooner than later.”
The group had also considered going independent under Wells Fargo Advisors’ Financial Network, which the firm has been promoting internally for employee brokers who want to run their own business. But the contract required them to stay for seven years or pay a fee to separate and they would also have continued to be associated with Wells, a connection that had sparked concerns from some of their corporate 401(k) clients following the fake account scandal in 2016, he said. The wait-list for FiNet was also nine months, he said.
A spokeswoman for Wells said she could not immediately comment on the remarks or the wait-list claim.
Pultman and his team had also considered Raymond James Financial and Stifel Financial but decided they would have more flexibility in selecting products and crafting a succession plan at their own firm. They used platform provider tru Independence to help set up their RIA, select technology services and choose Fidelity Investments as their RIA custodian, he said.
Pultman noted that they opted to forgo the large signing bonuses that brokerage firms pay to recruits.
“To really be true to my clients, I could not take a reward or bonus to move to another firm,” he said. “I could have made a lot more money going to another option.”
Biedenstein also started his career at A.G. Edwards in 1998 and moved to Wells in 2008, although he was not registered as a broker between 2010 and 2015, according to his BrokerCheck history.
Badolato started at Wells in 2015, according to BrokerCheck.
Separately, in Bend, Oregon, a father-son team with $200 million in client assets left Wells Fargo Advisors to join regional brokerage D.A. Davidson, according to a spokeswoman for the hiring firm. Don K. Wells Jr. and Kyle K. Wells had been generating $1,150,000 in annual revenue with Wells’ private client group, according to the spokeswoman.
Don Wells, a 28-year industry veteran, did not return a call for comment about the move.
The transition is a return to regional brokerage roots for Don, who had worked at A.G. Edwards & Sons for 10 years, according to BrokerCheck. He started there in 1990 after a short stint at the beginning of his career with Lehman Brothers, moved to Citigroup’s Smith Barney in 2001 and then switched to Wells Fargo in 2009.
His son, Kyle, started at Wells Fargo in 2017, according to BrokerCheck.
Great Falls, Montana-based D.A. Davidson was founded in 1932, and has around 370 employee brokers, according to the spokeswoman.
The two teams join a growing list of moves out of Wells Fargo since the fake account scandal. The firm had lost a net 860 brokers since September 2016 and had around 14,200 advisors as of June 30. Wells Fargo, which has been looking to stem the tide of departures with sweetened offers and bounties for recruiters, recently added a Merrill Lynch team in Alabama with $200 million in client assets.
Wells Fargo executives have attributed the departures are due to broker retirements and the run-off of retention loans given to A.G. Edwards brokers as part of the 2007 acquisition by Wachovia.