Ameriprise Lures Three Teams Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Despite travel restrictions and shelter-in-place orders that have stopped or delayed many advisor recruiting moves, Ameriprise Financial has settled three new teams in as many states in the past month, including Morgan Stanley veterans.
They were generating $1.8 million in trailing-12 production on $320 million in client assets, with $75 million of it in retirement plans for “institutional” clients, Phelps said.
The advisors began their search about a year ago and conducted due diligence on 11 firms before committing to Ameriprise, he said. The decision was driven by Amerprise’s “superior technology” and its longtime focus on financial planning, he said, without elaborating on what prompted their search or the recruiting deals offered.
The team members have been working remotely from their homes near Madison, Wis., since their March 27 shift because of the virus constrictions, making coordination among them and clients somewhat of an issue, conceded Phelps.
The broker began his career in Madison, but worked for the past decade from Scottsdale, Arizona, according to his unblemished BrokerCheck history. Hamus had worked at Morgan Stanley’s office in Madison since 2008, and also has no disclosures, according to the broker database.
In New Jersey, Amerprise convinced Robert Bacino and Shelley Nord to shift from running a hybrid independent practice that Bacino founded in 2004 to join its employee channel on March 9. They had managed $275 million in client assets at Insight Private Advisors, a registered investment advisor in Bridgewater owned by Bacino.
“Ameriprise is a leader in financial planning, which is the center of our practice,” he said in an e-mailed statement about the virus-era move. “And it offers a client-focused technology platform and an operations support system that allows us to continue to deliver the high touch, client-focused service model that is critical for our continued success.”
Bacino began his brokerage career in 1992 at Robert W. Baird & Co. and worked for three years at Merrill Lynch before going independent with LPL Financial in 2004. Nord has worked with Bacino for her entire advisory career, which began in 2008, according to BrokerCheck.
In North Dakota, Ashley Gagner, who was managing $92 million in client assets, moved her independent practice from Wells Fargo’s Financial Network (FiNet) to Ameriprise’s “franchise” channel on March 11. She had been affiliated with FiNet for nine years, setting up an independent planning firm after two-and-a-half years at Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley in Fargo.
Gagner did not return a call for comment on her switch between the independent broker-dealers.
Ameriprise, which has almost 9,900 brokers—78% of whom are independent contractors—has been one of the brokerage industry’s most aggressive recruiters in recent years. “Forgivable” recruiting loans on its balance sheet grew 15.6% in 2019 to $645 million as it attempts to attract higher producers interested in its core lead-with-a-plan sales efforts.
Ameriprise on Wednesday announced that it also hired the father-son team of Robert Arthur Bonwell, Sr., and Robert Arthur, Jr., in January from Wells Fargo Advisors in West Virginia, and in February recruited James Buzgo from UBS Financial Services in Boston.
The Bonwells, with a combined 77 years of brokerage experience, had managed $149 million in client assets at Wells Fargo. They investigated more than 15 firms before settling on Ameriprise, which opened a new employee channel office for them in Charleston.
The move was stimulated in part by their professed search for superior technology, and the coronavirus business crisis has reinforced the decision, according to the younger Bonwell.
“Ameriprise helped us pivot smoothly to virtual meetings and they’ve equipped us with great technology, market research and expertise to guide our clients through this uncertain period,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our clients feel very well supported, and so do we as a team.”
The senior Bonwell had been with Wells and predecessor firms since he began his brokerage career 55 years ago at Bache & Co. His son first registered as a broker in 1997 with Forth Financial in Richmond, Va., shifting a year later to Prudential (Bache) Securities, which formed a joint venture with Wells predecessor Wachovia Securities in 2003.
Buzgo, who moved in mid-February after 11 years at UBS, had been managing $137 million of client money at the wirehouse, according to Ameriprise. He began his brokerage career with Merrill Lynch in 2001, according to his BrokerCheck history, which has no record of customer complaints or regulatory disclosures.