Wirehouse to Wirehouse Redux: Morgan Stanley Hires Merrill Team
In a sign that Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is back in the recruiting game but may be having trouble luring the super-elite teams it claims to be seeking, the wirehouse has plucked a duo from Merrill Lynch in Illinois producing strong but not “franchise-player” numbers.
The team, which had been based in Merrill’s Northbrook branch, together generated around $1 million in fees and commissions in the previous 12 months, according to a source familiar with their practice.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on their production, and the advisors—a father- and son-in-law—did not return a request for comment left at their office.
Morgan Stanley Wealth, Merrill Wealth and UBS Wealth Management USA have cut their recruiting budgets in the past few years, but Morgan Stanley and UBS executives said they remain interested in high-end producers servicing ultra-high-net-worth clients. (Merrill Lynch Wealth head Andy Sieg said earlier this month that the firm is sticking with its 18-month-old decision to refrain from “competitive recruiting.”)
Headhunters said Morgan Stanley has somewhat lowered its ambition, offering as much 250 times trailing-12-month revenue upfront to advisors at or near the million-dollar production range. (With back-end targets, pay can triple previous-year revenue, they said.)
However, the firm appears to be having a hard time finding advisors because of its decision in late 2017 to leave the Protocol for Broker Recruiting and other strategies designed to keep brokers in their seats, recruiters said.
“They want to selectively hire, but every time an advisor sees Morgan Stanley trying to sue one departing team or another, it’s not exactly a great commercial for the firm,” Mark Elzweig, a New York-based recruiter who does not work with Morgan Stanley said of its post-Protocol litigation strategies.
The Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment.
Morgan Stanley wealth head Andy Saperstein earlier this month said the firm has had “terrific” success in retaining top advisors (last year it introduced enhanced account-inheritance incentives). Moves to competitors are at their lowest level since the acquisition of Smith Barney ten years ago, Saperstein said, but he also conceded that the firm’s force of 15,700 brokers is likely to fall over the next few years.
To be sure, Morgan Stanley has been filling some seats. In February, it hired million-dollar producer Chelsea Deng, who had spent the previous 13 years with Merrill in Beverly Hills.
Calfee, the senior member of the new Morgan Stanley team, began his brokerage career at Dean Witter Reynolds in 1996, and also worked at UBS Financial Services for eight years before joining Merrill in 2009, according to his BrokerCheck history.
Poore became a broker in August 2013 at J.P. Morgan Securities prior to joining Merrill in the summer of 2014, according to his BrokerCheck history. Neither advisor has a disclosure on his record.