Wells Dribbles More Advisors, Nashville Complex Manager Steps Down
The churn out of Wells Fargo Advisors is continuing nationwide, as West Coast, East Coast and southeastern brokers made moves from the firm and its scandal-plagued parent in recent days.
Tony Thorpe, a senior vice president who ran Wells’ seven-office, 60-broker Nashville private client group complex in Tennessee and Kentucky, stepped down from the post last week, a spokeswoman confirmed. He announced his decision within days of the departure of Nashville branch director Tom Wade to RBC Wealth Management.
Thorpe, a 28-year brokerage veteran who worked at UBS Financial and Morgan Stanley before joining Wells, did not return several calls for comment. He told his advisors that he would be sticking around to work on unspecified projects for a while, the spokeswoman confirmed.
Wells Advisors’ brokerage force has declined by more than 850 brokers over the past 22 months. The decline reflects, in part, a high number of retirements and the expiration of retention deals with A.G. Edwards brokers, but insiders and managers from other firms say concerns customers are raising with brokers about the bank’s culture and values have dimmed morale and hastened exits. A forthcoming reorganization of the bank’s wealth division that is expected to include cutbacks also has raised anxiety, they said.
Thorpe’s early retirement, however, appears to involve a personality issue, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He joined Wells four years ago as its central Michigan complex manager in East Lansing, but moved to Tennessee two years ago after scraping with Midwest region president Keith Vanderveen, they said. Wells Fargo Advisors last month transferred Vanderveen to run its Florida region as part of a broader reorganization that affects the Gulf States managed by Thorpe, among others.
Elsewhere, Stifel Financial’s Stifel Nicolaus said Thursday that it hired the Wells team of Mark Graham and Brian Bissell, who produce about $2 million and oversee about $170 million of client assets.
Graham, who is opening a new Stifel office in Spokane, Wash., is a 35-year industry veteran who joined Wells in 2009 following stints at UBS, Smith Barney and Crowell, Weedon. Bissell, who began his brokerage career at Smith Barney in 2000 and moved in tandem with him to UBS in 2007 and to Wells two years later, is based in Stifel’s Pasadena, Calif., office.
“I’ve been talking to them for probably a year, and they are just unhappy with Wells,” said John Lee, Stifel’s western region recruiting head. “At some point, Wells will right the ship but it can’t get out of the way of headlines right now, and that breeds opportunities for folks like us.”
The new Stifel brokers, whose BrokerCheck records as of Thursday have not yet reflected their move, did not respond to requests for comment on their decision to join the St. Louis-based broker-dealer. Lee said they were attracted to a “throwback firm where entrepreneurial-minded brokers who got into the business years ago to guide clients can still do it.”
Separately, Raymond James & Associates said on Thursday that in June it hired a two-person Wells Advisors team who had been managing $462 million in client assets.
The Santa Clara, Calif-based group includes Linda Pardini, who has spent her 25-year brokerage career with Wells, and Douglas Wulbrecht, who has worked at Wells and predecessor A.G. Edwards & Sons for 31 of his 33 years in the industry, according to BrokerCheck.
“We’re here for our clients first, and Raymond James puts the client above its own needs,” Pardini said in a prepared statement.
They joined Raymond James & Associates, the firm’s employee branch network, on June 1, according to BrokerCheck. Their two client associates, Alicia Carinalli and Alexis Smith, also moved with them, according to the announcement.
Earlier this week, Baird’s private wealth group said it hired Harry Buchanan (H.B.) Smith, who likewise had spent his entire brokerage career of 25 years at Wells and its A.G. Edwards predecessor. Smith, who joined with assistant Daniel Bryant, is based in Charlotte, N.C., and was managing about $150 million of client assets at Wells Fargo, according to Baird.