Wirehouse to Wirehouse: UBS Picks Up Big Boston Team from Morgan Stanley
In an increasingly rare move at a time when big firms have shrunk their hiring budgets, UBS Wealth Management has recruited a Morgan Stanley team in Boston that it said was generating $3.5 million of fees and commissions at the rival firm.
Morgan Stanley’s loss, which occurred at the start of the President’s Day weekend on Friday, was deepened by the exit of a veteran complex manager in Boston to Raymond James.
The brokers, Craig A. Lewis and Robert M. Ryan, moved to UBS’s Post Office Square office in Boston from Morgan Stanley’s High Street branch. They had been managing around $350 million, said a UBS spokesman.
Both UBS and Morgan Stanley have backed away from the expensive strategy of recruiting experienced brokers, focusing instead on carrot-and-stick incentives aimed at improving broker retention. Besides rewarding longevity, they withdrew in late 2017 from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, making it more difficult for brokers to contact former clients when they join new firms.
In a brief interview, Ryan said he and Lewis did not expect Morgan Stanley to challenge their move because of their adherence to the employment contracts signed when they joined the wirehouse in April 2007.
A spokeswoman at Morgan Stanley, which has gone to court and to arbitration against some former brokers to prevent client solicitations, confirmed the pair’s departure but declined further comment.
Ryan and Lewis, who began their brokerage careers at Merrill Lynch in 1991 and 1992, respectively, have specialties working with Israeli clients and with helping corporate executives manage their equity holdings, according to their former Morgan Stanley biography. (Morgan Stanley last week said it will buy a stock plan management software firm for $900 million in a bid to rev up the business and to convert lower-echelon employees to wealth management customers.)
The veteran Boston complex manager who left Morgan Stanley for Raymond James & Associates’ employee channel was William F. Drew. He is overseeing the Florida-based firm’s small group of branches in Massachusetts, West Hartford, Connecticut and Rhode Island, said a RayJay source. The position had been open for around two years, the source said.
Morgan Stanley is searching for a replacement for Drew, the firm’s spokeswoman said.
Drew started his brokerage in 1993 at Alex. Brown & Sons Inc.—which is now a division of Raymond James—but shifted after one year to Smith Barney, which Morgan Stanley subsequently absorbed.
UBS ended 2018 with about 6,300 brokers, down by around 285 from a year earlier. Morgan Stanley employed almost 15,700 brokers as of December 31, off by a net 18 from 12 months earlier.