Stifel Recruits Wells Veteran to Run New Jersey Complex
Stifel Nicolaus continues to chip away at wirehouse competitors by hiring branch and complex managers in an effort to grow beyond its midwestern regional roots.
The St. Louis-based broker-dealer unit of Stifel Financial on Tuesday hired Tom Thives in the new position of New Jersey complex manager, the company said. He will help oversee some 40 brokers in the firm’s Florham Park office and another 11 that are listed at Stifel’s Princeton and Ramsey locations, according to the branches’ websites.
Like its expansionary regional rival Raymond James Financial, Stifel has been picking off advisors with the pitch that it offers own-your-client autonomy that is rapidly evaporating at bank-owned behemoths such as Wells Fargo Advisors, UBS and Merrill Lynch.
“I think it’s why everybody is leaving Wells and it’s our great story,” said Norm Raymond, the producing manager of Stifel’s Florham Park office, who said he hadn’t previously known Thives but is talking to a number of prospects from his alma mater. “We’re one of the last bastions of the old-time firms where entrepreneurial brokers can run the business the way they think is best for them and their clientele.”
The culture argument is more persuasive than focusing pitches on Wells’ extended banking scandal, according to Raymond, noting that the headlines are a distraction for Wells advisors but will pass.
A Wells Fargo Advisors spokeswoman confirmed Thives’ departure and said that Charlie Bae, the firm’s Metro Northeast regional manager, will manage the Florham Park branch on an interim basis. She did not comment on Stifel’s assertion that Thives had more than doubled the branch’s brokerage force to 65 during his tenure.
Thives, who has worked at Wells and its Prudential Securities predecessor since 1994 and been a broker since 1983, couldn’t be reached for comment but said in a prepared statement: “I believe Stifel will continue to thrive in the years ahead as more advisors look to return to their traditional brokerage roots.”
Stifel has not offered the eye-popping signing bonuses that wirehouses had been dangling before experienced advisors until their recent recruiting retrenchment, but supplements its smaller deals with a small-firm culture of accessible management, few nuisance charges to clients and minimal account hurdles for brokers, Raymond asserted.
The firm’s payout structure also would be familiar to Wells Fargo Advisors veterans. Unlike most firms that offer grid-based pay percentages based on the previous year’s production, both Stifel and Wells have monthly production hurdles with low payout rates that balloon to 50% once the monthly hurdle is hit.
Thives’ hiring follows Stifel’s recruiting of senior managers Bob Johnson from Merrill Lynch in Texas and James P. Van Steenhuyse from UBS Financial in Arizona in recent months. Last June, it also hired Wells Fargo Advisors southwest Chicago manager Kevin Ortmeyer as a division head.