Wells Complex Manager Returns, Weeks After Jumping to Indie Firm
Wells Fargo Advisors has faced a flurry of departures over the past 18 months, but it has convinced at least one recent emigree to see the error of his ways.
Christopher Davis, who was a complex manager overseeing eight offices in New York’s Long Island suburbs, has resumed his career at the bank-owned wirehouse, where he had spent 18 years of his 25-year career. He returned this week after less than a two-month sojourn at Steward Partners Global Advisory LLC, an independent partnership advisory firm associated with Raymond James Financial Services.
“Sometimes you have to take a look around to realize what you had all along,” Davis, who started his career as a financial advisor at PaineWebber in 1992, said in a prepared statement in response to requests about his odyssey.
Davis had decried the changing culture at the scandal-plagued Wells Fargo Bank, saying that brokers in the aftermath were being inhibited from developing their businesses. But in his statement this week, he hinted that Wells Fargo Advisors has acknowledged the issue.
“I’m focusing on change management, helping our advisors have a growth mindset in the midst of so much industry change,” he said.
A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said that Davis’s new role gives him expanded responsibility for recruiting and growing advisors’ practices.
At Washington, D.C.-based Steward, which has 15 offices and fewer than 100 advisors, Davis was a “divisional” director overseeing New York and New Jersey. Steward Chief Executive Officer James Gold declined to comment on the departure.
At Wells, which has more than 10,000 brokers in its private client group, Davis had been in charge of a complex of 190 brokers managing $17 billion, according to a statement that Steward released when it hired him in May.
After he tendered his resignation, Wells’ higher-ups began a concerted wooing effort, a person familiar with the process said. The executives, who are trying to rally a salesforce that has suffered more than 600 net departures of brokers since the bank’s fake-account scandal was revealed in September 2016, apparently were inured to statements from Davis implying that the retail brokerage business was suffering for the sins of its sister bank.
“[F]or a period of time it really felt as though the policies and procedures were built for the lowest common denominator,” Davis told “On Wall Street” magazine in May. “You had some incredible and talented individuals at the firm, yet they were being held back from either growth opportunities or developing their business because we had a lot of checkpoints.”
Wells Fargo Advisors has added recruiting and pay incentives to retain and recruit brokers in recent months.
The return of Davis helps to rebalance Wells’s short-term hosting of UBS manager Justin Steers, who returned to his former firm eight days after joining Wells in March. Steers is once again overseeing around 25 brokers at UBS’ Carmel Valley branch near San Diego.
(Editor’s Note: Tony Sirianni, publisher and chief executive of AdvisorHub, was a founding partner of Steward Partners.)