Wells Nets Merrill, Morgan Stanley Brokers Nationwide
Wells Fargo Advisors’ campaign to replenish its depleted ranks with experienced brokers from wirehouse competitors appears to be continuing to bear fruit.
At least five have joined its private client group network of branches in the past three weeks from Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley in Texas, Maryland, Georgia and Massachusetts.
In Dallas, Michael M. Charne and Brett R. Levy arrived at Wells’ Preston Road branch on June 7 after nine-and-a-half years at Merrill Lynch, according to their BrokerCheck records. The pair, who began their careers with Oppenheimer & Co., had been generating about $2 million in annual revenue, according to a person familiar with their practice.
Charne declined to comment, and a spokeswoman at Merrill, which earlier this month lost a Dallas duo producing $3.5 million to Stifel Nicolaus, did not return a request for comment.
At least three other brokers joined from Morgan Stanley in recent weeks, according to announcements from local branch managers on LinkedIn.
Leo A. Robinson arrived at Wells Fargo Advisors ’ 2 International Place office in Boston on June 6 as a managing director, according to BrokerCheck. Robinson, a 20-year industry veteran, had been with Morgan Stanley for the last 11 years. He started his career with Legg Mason in 1999 and also spent almost six years at UBS Financial Services, according to BrokerCheck.
Robinson, who joined without associates, did not return a call for comment.
In Baltimore, David Butler left Morgan Stanley on May 31 after 10 years to join Wells Advisors’ W. Pratt Street branch, according to a posting on LinkedIn and his BrokerCheck record. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2008, Butler had spent 16 years at Merrill Lynch, according to his BrokerCheck report. He did not return a request for comment at his Wells office, where he is listed as a vice president, the same title he had at Morgan Stanley.
In Valdosta, Georgia, Kevin Giddens left Morgan Stanley on May 31 after eight-and-a-half years for Wells. Giddens, who had split his 17-year career between Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, said he wanted to stay with a large firm that offered a wide range of brokerage and banking services, but would not discuss why he left Morgan Stanley to join the four-advisor Wells branch in the small Georgia town.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the departures.
Wells has been offering fairly hefty signing bonuses to even sub-million-dollar brokers at a time when Merrill, Morgan Stanley and UBS have significantly cut their recruiting budgets.
To offset a brokerage count that fell by over 1,250 to around 14,000 since its parent company’s fake account scandal came to light in September 2016, Wells Fargo Advisors has offered premiums to recruiters to land more brokers, while advisors generating $500,000 in revenue can get twice their trailing-12 production in cash plus another 25% of trailing-12 in stock to compensate for deferred stock left behind, recruiters told AdvisorHub.
In another indication of Wells Fargo Advisors’ desire to replenish through outside hiring and internal training, it has added several executives to its operating committee. They include Chip Walker, head of field strategy and execution; Drew Dawkins, director of diverse client segments; and Diane Gabriel, head of next generation talent.
The management committee also includes newcomers Ilene Marquardt, who joined Wells Fargo Advisors after a long legal career with UBS Financial Services in February to replace retired general counsel Doug Kelly, who retired this year.
Gina House, a marketing executive at Edward Jones and, most recently at First Community Credit Union near Wells Advisors’ St. Louis headquarters, also joined the management committee. She replaced JoAnn Neau, who left Wells Advisors last year, as head of marketing.