California Broker Dismissed by Wells Takes $7.1-Bln Team to Ameriprise
Michael L. Abrams, a nationally ranked Silicon Valley-based broker dismissed by Wells Fargo Advisors earlier this month for falling short of “conduct expectations,” has found a new home at Ameriprise Financial.
Abrams, a registered representative for 29 years, had been with Wells since 1999 and worked in Palo Alto in its “wealth brokerage services” unit, which generally services bank branch customers. He could not immediately be reached for comment on his move.
Abrams negotiated his move quickly. His registration with Wells lapsed on September 3, according to BrokerCheck.
Wells Fargo Advisors discharged Abrams after determining he did not meet the firm’s conduct standards, according to a summary of the U5 firm appended to his Central Registration Depository record. It did not elaborate, other than to say that the conduct lapse was unrelated to the securities business.
Abrams’ relatively clean regulatory record aside from the U5 language—he has only one disclosure on BrokerCheck, a customer suitability complaint denied by Wells—combined with his large book likely made him attractive to several firms, said recruiters and lawyers speaking on condition of anonymity.
Abrams ranked #10 in Forbes’ most recent best-in-state wealth advisors poll in California and #234 nationally. Barron’s ranked him #54 in California and from 2011 to 2019 listed him as a “Top 1200” advisor nationally. He was managing $6.5 billion for 78 households with an average net worth of $40 million as of the end of last September, according to Barron’s.
His team’s client assets imply a multimillion-dollar production number that would place Abrams in Ameriprise’s top tier of brokers. The Minneapolis-based company’s advisors on average generate $638,000 annually, it said in its second-quarter earnings report.
Abrams is not the only big producer who landed quickly this summer after troubles at their former firms.
Steven H. Heng, who Wells dismissed from a wealth brokerage services branch in May for alleged issues involving his personal bank account, was hired in June by Robert W. Baird in Roseville, CA. Forbes ranks Heng #101 in California with $350 million in client assets.
Christopher R. Berry, dismissed from Merrill Lynch Wealth’s private wealth unit in June for letting an assistant complete some required training modules, is now an advisor with Boston Private Financial Holdings in San Francisco.
Ameriprise hired 75 brokers in the second quarter but reported a net decline of 57 in its force over the previous year. It had 9,894 advisors as of June 30, including 2,200 in its employee channel. The remainder work as independent contractors in its “franchise” channel.
Wells Fargo as of June 30 had 13,298 advisors in its private wealth, independent contractor and bank branch channels, a net loss of 501 from a year earlier.