UBS Loses Brokers in California and Massachusetts to Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo Advisors may be having a broker retention problem, but in the last few months it quietly recruited some brokers with sizable practices from UBS Financial Services.
Wells did not publicize the moves, which include the head of UBS’s Palo Alto, Calif., branch. The low profile may reflect the firm’s interest in keeping out of headlines that call attention to its recruiting and revenue-producing strategies. It also may be reluctant to stir up UBS, which pulled out of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting in December and subsequently attempted to restrict some departing brokers from contacting their former clients.
The former Palo Alto manager who joined a Wells Advisors’ private client group branch in Los Angeles on April 6 is Susanna Kim Bracke, according to her BrokerCheck history and her new Wells web page. In addition to her management role, Bracke had been overseeing $217 million in client assets, according to a Forbes 2018 ranking of the “Best in State” brokers, which listed her at 117 of list of 118 advisors in California.
Bracke, who had been with UBS since December 2008, did not return a call for comment. She began her Wall Street career at Lehman Brothers investment banking division, and also managed a $500 million portfolio for an international family office before joining Smith Barney in late 2003, according to her former UBS web page.
Wells Fargo separately recruited the Bakersfield, California, team of Gary and Nancy Sampson and their son Jon, according to their BrokerCheck histories. The Sampsons, who joined Wells Private Client’s wealth brokerage services unit in March, had been with UBS for nine years. They generated around $2 million in fees and commissions annually, said Ron Edde, an industry recruiter who said he was not involved in the move.
Wells last month hired a Merrill broker in New Jersey to join its WBS group, which differs from Wells’ traditional private client channel by giving its brokers and financial planners leads on wealthy clients from the consumer bank.
Gary Sampson, a former Merrill branch manager before joining Wells in 2008, did not respond to requests for comment on the reasons for his change. He and his wife have worked together as brokers for almost 30 years, and were joined by their son at UBS in 2008, according to BrokerCheck and their Wells Fargo biographies.
A spokeswoman at Wells Fargo confirmed Bracke’s arrival but could not immediately comment on the other moves. A UBS spokeswoman said she could not immediately confirm the departures.
The fact that the recent moves out of UBS occurred without courtroom motions for injunctions and restraining orders could further encourage brokers who are nervous about jumping post-Protocol, recruiters said.
Wells Fargo has retained attorneys in some locations to counsel brokers on how to plan their moves to avoid triggering violations of employment contracts and client-privacy laws, according to Edde, and some firms prospecting for brokers at UBS and its Protocol-exiting comrade Morgan Stanley will fund brokers’ legal costs.
In addition to the UBS-to-Wells migration in California, broker Norman F. Barrett III, made the journey in Hyannis, Massachusetts, in March, according to his BrokerCheck history. The 22-year industry veteran, who had been with UBS for nine years, is at a traditional private client group branch.
Barrett this month agreed to three years of heightened supervision at Wells for falsely attesting to UBS that he had no “reportable” events and for failing to provide Finra with documentation regarding the disclosure, according to BrokerCheck.
The broker, who began his career as registered rep at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, did not respond to a request for comment on his move. The Wells spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the firm’s hiring decision.