Stifel Recruiting Head John Pierce Leaves After Four Years
Stifel Financial has parted ways with its head of retail broker recruiting.
Senior executives at the company reportedly raised concerns about his involvement in a web article touting his outsized influence on the firm’s proclaimed recruiting success, according to two sources outside the company. It was breathlessly titled, “Stifel’s Historic Recruiting Surge: The Man Behind the Firm’s Epic Pivot from Passive Recruiting to Two Years of Domination.”
Pierce, who began his brokerage career 25 years ago, said he is on garden leave until May 11. He declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure.
The publisher of the article, a recruiting site called “BrokerChalk,” posted a short article Thursday saying it “did not speak to Mr. Pierce” in preparing the piece and calling his dismissal “a mystery.” The website includes items signed by Andrew Parish, the founder of “AdvisorHub” who is no longer affiliated with the publication.
A Stifel spokesman confirmed that Pierce has left, but declined to explain his departure, whether he will be replaced and how it could affect future moves and ongoing negotiations. During Pierce’s tenure, Stifel hired several veteran wirehouse managers—including Merrill Lynch’s Robert Johnson and UBS/PaineWebber’s James Van Steenhuyse—to bolster its brokerage ranks.
Stifel last quarter added a net 30 advisors, and a net 76 in all of 2019, ending the year with 2,222 advisors in 382 branches. That’s down from 2,282 brokers when Pierce began at Stifel in January 2016, but new brokers had substantially larger books of business than the average Stifel broker, CEO Ron Kruszewski said on an earnings call last month.
Customer assets at Stifel’s private client group rose to $329.5 billion at the end of December from $219.9 billion when Pierce joined four years earlier, though asset growth reflects steady market gains as well as customers brought in through recruiting. The 2019 recruits were cumulatively managing $17 billion in client assets and producing $119 million at their prior firms, Stifel said last month.
In addition to continuing its “strategy of recruiting experienced advisors with established client relationships,” Stifel has made eight retail brokerage acquisitions over the past 15 years (including 56 midwestern branches from UBS in 2009), according to the presentation slides. In 2008, it had 1,315 advisors in 196 branches.
Pierce started his career at Merrill Lynch in 1993 and moved to Glen Eagle Advisors in 2007 and then Ameriprise Financial Services in 2008, according to his BrokerCheck. He had been head of recruiting for Ameriprise’s employee channel until leaving in August 2014 to join an a company making loans to advisors, according to his LinkedIn. He joined Stifel as head of recruiting in January 2016, according to the job networking site.