Phil Shaffer of Morgan Stanley Graystone Fame Opens His Own Shop
Phil C. Shaffer, a founding member of the Graystone business for managing wealthy family and small pension fund portfolios that is now run by Morgan Stanley, has established a registered investment advisory firm in Columbus, Ohio, following his departure from his former mega-team in June.
The new firm is called Halite Partners, LLC, and will generally work with clients who have portfolios of $10 million or more or who agree to pay a minimum annual fee of $50,000, according to regulatory disclosures filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Halite, whose corporate logo depicts the crystal structure of the rock-salt mineral of the same name, will have an initial crew of nine employees, at least five of whom were advisers on Shaffer’s Columbus-based Morgan Stanley team. The team, which had a staff of 24 and reportedly managed $3.8 billion in assets, now includes 19 people under the command of his former associate, Jennifer K. Hamant, according to its website.
Shaffer accelerated plans to go out on his own when word leaked to higher-ups in June, said several sources familiar with the events leading to his departure. The exit has been closely watched because of Shaffer’s stature —he began his career at E.F. Hutton, the breeding ground for the wrap account business that was absorbed by Lehman Brothers and Smith Barney—and because of the logistics his departure.
Teams as large as the one he was leading at Morgan Stanley are generally hard to move en masse, and Shaffer’s token force at Halite may reflect that difficulty. He also is said to have chafed some of his teammates and superiors because he had been spending more time at a Florida residence, said some sources.
Shaffer did not return a call for comment left at his Halite office.
His team is seeded with younger associates who did not have deep Morgan Stanley roots. Norman G. Cook, Halite’s president and chief marketing officer, was with the wirehouse for just 17 months when he left at the end of June along with Shaffer. The new RIA’s chief investment officer, Lee Caleshu, was with Graystone in Columbus for just over a year while Shaffer’s son, Joshua — Halite’s director of research — was with his father at Morgan Stanley for less than a year, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Joining them as a “family wealth advisor” is Annie Sidwell, who was a client associate with Shaffer’s Graystone group since 2011.
Shaffer, who ranked 13th in Barron’s 2017 institutional poll with $3.8 billion of assets under management, has the challenge of convincing former clients to follow him and go through the added challenge of moving their accounts out of Morgan Stanley to Pershing Advisor Solutions or Charles Schwab & Co Inc., the custodians that Halite’s brochure said it is recommending to customers.
An official of the Hilda E. Bretzlaff Foundation, a longtime client, told AdvisorHub inJune that she has confidence in Hamant, had not worked with Shaffer personally “for years” and planned to remain with Morgan Stanley/Graystone.
Other clients of the legacy practice at the Columbus Graystone office include retirement funds of the Navy SEAL Foundation, Green Mountain Power, and University of the Cumberlands, according to a Morgan Stanley brochure.
“No decision has been made” on whether to follow Shaffer, H. Kenneth Cole, chief administrator and treasurer of the Hillsdale College Independence Foundation, when asked about the Michigan-based nonprofit’s plans.
Hamant at Graystone did not return a call for comment.