Wells Duo Managing $500 Million Forms RIA in San Francisco
A pair of wirehouse veterans in San Francisco have left Wells Fargo Advisors to start their own registered investment advisory firm, solidifying the “breakaway” broker move to independence.Frederick “Fritz” Glasser, who began his brokerage career almost 25 years ago at Smith Barney, left the private client group of Wells one week ago to launch Optas LLC along with 10-year industry veteran Meghan Railey, according to registration records.
The team specializes in helping founders and early employees of tech companies manage their stock options, according to their webpage biographies. When they joined Wells from UBS nine years ago, they were producing about $1.1 million on customer assets of $154 million, according to a Wells news release. Their assets under management had grown to $500 million by the summer of 2017, according to a Forbes profile of Railey that year.
Neither Glasser nor Railey, who are sole owners of Optas, according to the firm’s ADV filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, returned a call for comment on Tuesday morning. “Trained at a full-service brokerage firm, we understand the specifics of new wealth and the benefits of unbiased advice,” they say on Optas’ website.
Their shift represents at least the fifth in the past month of big-firm brokers to start their own fee-based advisory shops. A UBS team in Maine with $530 million and a Merrill Lynch team in Atlanta with $450 million made the jump last week, following similar moves in April by a UBS team in Boston overseeing $672 million and a Morgan Stanley megagroup in Texas with $6 billion in assets.
Wells Fargo Advisors in January launched its own RIA custody channel, in part to retain business from brokers seeking independence. Some 1,200 brokers have left Wells since its parent disclosed fake account scandals in September 2016. At least three brokers have joined the RIA channel.
Optas, a Latin word denoting “a choice from a range of possibilities,” according to its webpage, plans to custody its customers’ assets with a unit of Fidelity Brokerage Services.
Joining Glasser and Railey are Michael Berger, 17-year brokerage veteran who also moved from Wells and is the RIA’s chief compliance officer. Also on the team are derivatives analyst Paul van den Tempel, whose BrokerCHeck said he worked at the Wells San Francisco office for almost a year, and client associate Ryan Klippel.
Glasser First registered as a broker in July 1994 at Smith Barney, moved 18 months later to UBS for a 14-year stint and then joined Wells Fargo Advisors in April 2010, according to his BrokerCheck record. Railey began her career at UBS in 2008 and partnered with Glasser in 2010 shortly before they moved to Wells. Neither has held onto their brokerage licenses, according to the BrokerCheck histories.