UBS Loses California Team to Morgan Stanley, Gains Indiana Brokers from Merrill
Despite their underlying strategy of pulling back from what they say is a zero-sum game of recruiting from each other, wirehouses in recent weeks have been making exceptions to their policy.
Morgan Stanley hired the team of Jevin M. Ferguson and Daniel Marks from UBS Wealth Management USA in Newport Beach, California, on February 1, a previously unreported move that a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed.
The pair, who joined with two assistants, had been managing $1 billion of client assets at UBS, according to Forbes 2019 ranking of top California brokers.
The move is a homecoming for Marks, who began his brokerage career with Morgan Stanley in 1999 and remained for five years before leaving under pressure to join Smith Barney, according to his BrokerCheck record. Morgan Stanley “permitted him to resign” in 2004 for violating a firm policy regarding “communication with the public.”
The issue involved his telling a reporter who was calling about a client that he could not discuss anything and could not be quoted, he wrote on his regulatory report. “They said this was unapproved,” he said of Morgan Stanley’s earlier decision.
He and Ferguson shifted to UBS from Smith Barney in January 2009 after Citigroup announced it was transferring the broker-dealer business to Morgan Stanley.
Neither Marks nor Ferguson, who started his brokerage career at H&R Block Financial Advisors in 2000 and moved to Smith Barney in 2001, responded to requests for comment.
UBS, for its part, opened its doors last week to a wife-and-husband team in Indianapolis who joined from Merrill Lynch after spending their 11-year and 14-year brokerage careers with the company.
Adrienne Hart and T. Beau Hart joined the Swiss-owned broker-dealer on March 1, according to their BrokerCheck records.
Adrienne Hart, whose mother and sister were Merrill brokers, said in a short phone interview that the UBS office in Indianapolis is heavily weighted with Merrill alumni, many of whom they knew.
The Harts focus their practice on retirement planning for high net-worth individuals, UBS said in a news release that mentioned their “two decades of experience” but did not discuss their production metrics.
A Merrill spokeswoman declined comment on the Harts’ move other than to confirm that they left last week.
Both UBS and Morgan Stanley have withdrawn from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, in an attempt to keep seats filled without having to keep up past levels of inter-firm hiring. The pact permits brokers to solicit clients when moving among signatory firms, and the withdrawals allow the firms to enforce policies prohibiting solicitation of former clients.
Adrienne Hart said the couple was, of course, concerned about their inability to directly solicit their clients but insisted that it is not proving to be an issue.
“We have such close relationships with our clients that when Merrill sent them an email saying that we left, they all called us,” she said. The hires are further evidence that Morgan Stanley and UBS are selectively receptive to hiring experienced brokers despite their broader strategy initiated more than two years ago of cutting recruiting budgets and their Protocol exit. UBS last month hired a Morgan Stanley team of two advisers in Boston who it said was generating $3.5 million of fees at their former firm.