Wells Veteran in Washington Bolts for Independence After 51 Years
A locally prominent broker in Washington, D.C. who worked at Wells Fargo Advisors and predecessor firms for 51 years, resigned on Thursday to launch an independent registered investment advisory firm.
Chris Sargent, whose Well website said he was managing over $800 million in assets, formed Sargent Investment Group in Bethesda, Maryland, with at least six colleagues, according to a person answering the new firm’s phone on Friday morning.
In addition to Sargent, owners of the RIA include former Wells advisors Brian D. McGregor and Ricardo Rosenberg, according to an ADV regulatory filing for the new firm.
Sargent began his career in 1966 with Auchincloss, Parker and Redpath, a predecessor to Thomson McKinnon Securities that morphed into Prudential Securities and, ultimately, Wells Fargo Advisors. Rosenberg, a 37-year career broker, also started at Thomson McKinnon, while McGregor, a broker for 12 years, first worked at Deutsche Bank Securities and joined Wells Fargo in 2014, according to their BrokerCheck histories.
Their jump to independence underscores the continuing movement of veterans exploiting technology and third-party service providers to gain autonomy, as well as the steady flow of advisors out of Wells Fargo since its parent disclosed fake-account scandals almost two years ago. The bank has lost 6% of its brokerage force, or a net 860 advisors, since then, and the head of Wells’s wealth and investment management division earlier this week told employees to prepare for a major reorganization.
A spokeswoman for Wells did not return a request for comment on Sargent’s departure.
Sargent, Rosenberg and McGregor did not return requests for comment on their move from Wells Advisors’ private client group branch on Connecticut Avenue. Sargent, who is in his late 70s, specializes in pitching micro-cap and small-cap stocks to wealthy clients, according to a December 2008 “Research” magazine profile, and as recently as 2017 ranked as one of the Financial Times’ Top 400 Financial Advisors.
In 2011, Sargent was accused by a former member of his team of firing her for cooperating with a Wells investigation into allegations of placing elderly clients into thinly traded penny stock and of possible insider trading, according to a Washington Post article. The adviser, Pamela S. Bolanis, who is now with Merrill Lynch, declined to comment, according to an associate answering her phone.
Sargent’s BrokerCheck history has no disclosures of regulatory, firm or customer complaints.
His new RIA is using TD Ameritrade as custodian of its customer’s assets. Sargent and McGregor each own between 25% and 50% of the firm, while Rosenberg is a 10-25% owner, the filing says.
Joining them at the new firm are former Wells advisors Samuel F. Beach and Mary H. Harte and three sales associates, said the person who answered the new firm’s phone. Beach has been a broker since 1983, beginning with Kidder, Peabody & Co., while Harte started his career in 1997 at Prudential Securities, according to their BrokerCheck histories.