Wells Fargo Advisors Lauds 2020 Recruiting Harvest
Wells Fargo Advisors’ battle to overcome negative headlines with the help of elevated recruiting offers has yielded the arrival of at least 12 advisors with books of $750,000 or higher, according to a source at the company.
A spokeswoman this week said it also hired New Jersey advisor Rajan Arora from Merrill Lynch late last month. Arora, who has been a registered rep for 13 years was managing $70 million in client assets and generating $750,000 in annual revenue at Merrill, she said.
Arora, who began his brokerage career at Chase Securities in 2000 and had been with Merrill since mid-2015, did not return a call for comment on the motivation for his January 24 move.
Wells Fargo has been offering brokers generating about $500,000 or more of annual revenue recruiting bonuses that can reach as high as 325% of what they produced at their former firms, according to recruiters.
The aggressive package, which includes upfront “forgivable loans” and deferred compensation for hitting certain asset-transfer targets, is aimed at replenishing a brokerage force that has lost more than 1,500 advisors since Wells disclosed its bank fake account scandal in September 2016.
Wells Fargo Advisors ended the year with 13,512 brokers throughout its brokerage, bank branch and independent contractor office, down a net 456 from the prior year.
The spokeswoman said that 2019 was its best recruiting year since the scandal based on volume and quality. Brokers who joined last year had average annual production of $719,000, up from $565,000 in 2018, she said last month after Wells reported its fourth-quarter earnings.
Wells, which last year merged brokers working in bank branches together with its core force of more than 10,000 brokers in Wells Fargo Advisors offices, is filling seats from regional firms and banks, as well as from wirehouse competitors.
Jamie Meronoff, who worked at an Edward Jones office in San Diego for nine years, joined a Wells Fargo Advisors branch in La Jolla last month. He was producing $400,000 in revenue on around $55 million in client assets, the Wells spokeswoman said.
“I wanted a wider platform,” Meronoff said when asked what motivated his move.
Merrill Lynch, Arora’s former home, has kept its recruiting budget in check.
For more than two years it has eschewed hiring large brokers from rivals, focusing instead on less-expensive recruits with fewer than ten years of experience. Bank of America no longer breaks out the number of Merrill Lynch Wealth advisors it employs, preferring to amalgamate a range of brokers and associates throughout its bank network.
Merrill Wealth employed around 14,600 as of the end of the second quarter, the last time it specified headcount for the unit.
Edward Jones had 18,704 financial advisors at the end of 2019, up 1,089, or 6%, from 17,615 a year earlier. It typically trains from within, relying in large part on hiring second-career professionals to operate its national network of largely single-advisor branches.
Separately, LPL Financial said on Tuesday that it has recruited a 15-advisor group formerly affiliated with Cetera Financial Group that was managing $650 million of client assets.
Synergy Wealth Alliance, an “office of supervisory jurisdiction” for independent advisors, is based in Maitland, Fla., and led by Christopher Bordner, according to LPL. He switched his affiliation to LPL on December 4, 2019, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Bordner said in a prepared statement that he expects greater support at LPL than he received at Cetera in recruiting and acquiring other practices.
LPL ended the year with 16,464 independent contractors, up a net 355 from a year earlier.