Brokers at Wells, Morgan Stanley Come and Go in Crisis Atmosphere
(Updated with UBS’s hiring a Morgan Stanley broker in Phoenix on Friday.)
Even before the governors of Georgia and Texas rescinded their shelter-in-place orders this week, a few wirehouse advisors were on the move.
Transitions are difficult in the best of times as advisors tried to induce customers to follow them, but DeMartino described as “fantastic” his experience since arriving at Morgan Stanley’s Alpharetta branch in suburban Atlanta.
“I expect to take 95% of my clients,” he said.
DeMartino, who one source said was about a million-dollar producer, declined to elaborate. He has experience in transitions, having begun his career with an eight-year stint at Merrill, shifting to UBS in 2001 for another eight-year span and rejoining Merrill in 2009.
Searching for light among the coronavirus crisis, some recruiters have said that brokers are finding it easier to engage former customers who are sheltering at home while facing less competition from colleagues at their former firms to retain the customers.
Wells Fargo Advisors’ attempt to rebuild its advisor force in the aftermath of its bank’s fake account scandals had a mixed result this week. Sidney Grant, its producing manager in Abilene, Texas, left on Thursday to become an independent broker affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services.
Grant, who a source said generated between $1 million and $1.5 million at Wells, moved with Kim Vestal, his client associate. He had worked at A.G. Edwards & Sons, which was acquired by a Wells unit, since 2000. Grant could not be reached for comment.
The same day they left, however, Wells filled a seat in the Abilene branch.
John B. Wright joined from Morgan Stanley, where he had worked since 2007. Wright, who began his brokerage career 18 years in Texas with Farmers Financial, was generating about $600,000 of fees and commissions from clients, according to a local brokerage industry source.
Reached at his Wells branch on Friday, Wright declined to comment on the move.
UBS Wealth Management USA, meanwhile, said it reached into Morgan Stanley’s talent base this week to hire a top “next-gen” advisor in Phoenix, Arizona.
Justin Low, who a well-placed source said was producing $1.4 million annually at Morgan Stanley, joined a six-broker team led by Steven L. Schultz on Friday. Schultz himself made the move to UBS from Morgan Stanley in 2013, according to his BrokerCheck record, and his team generates a total of around $7 million at UBS, the source said.
Low, who was ranked #7 on Forbes’ Best-In-Arizona Wealth Advisors list in 2019 and #608 on America’s Next-Gen Advisors list in 2018, began his brokerage career in 2008 at Morgan Stanley predecessor Smith Barney.
The shifts come as brokerage executives, including Raymond James Chief Executive Paul Reilly and Stifel Financial CEO Ron Kruzewski, have acknowledged that their recruiting ambitions have been significantly curtailed by the coronavirus crisis, but some deals near completion before the contagion erupted have been consummated.
RBC Wealth Management-U.S. last month hired a four-broker Merrill Lynch team in New Jersey that had been managing $472 million, and a pair of Morgan Stanley advisors in Wisconsin who oversaw $320 million in client assets left in March to join Ameriprise Financial’s employee channel. Rockefeller Capital on Friday hired a team from Stifel in New York City that was producing more than $10 million of fees and commissions on about $2 billion of client assets.