First Republic Hires $2-Mln B. Riley Broker in NY, Steward Hires Wells VA Duo
First Republic Bank, an aggressive recruiter of large wirehouse brokers, has looked beyond its traditional Wall Street talent pool for its first hire of 2021.
First Republic Private Wealth Management on Friday recruited Michael Kramer from middle market investment bank B. Riley’s wealth management division in New York, according to an announcement. Kramer joined with two client associates and had been generating around $2 million in annual revenue from $500 million in client assets, according to a person familiar with his practice.
Kramer, who had spent the majority of his 17-year career as an independent broker, did not return a call for comment.
He and a former partner were the seed for Los Angeles-based B. Riley’s wealth management practice when they moved from independent broker Ladenburg Thalmann in 2015, according to an announcement, which said that the two had managed a combined $700 million.
A B. Riley spokeswoman declined to comment on the departure, and the former partner, Mark Klein, who has not been registered with B. Riley since 2018, according to BrokerCheck, did not return a call for comment.
B. Riley in January said it had agreed to acquire the remaining 55% of National Holdings in a deal that will add another 700 brokers from its National Securities brokerage. The core of B. Riley’s wealth business comes from the roughly 170 brokers it added through its 2017 acquisition of Wunderlich Securities, which it renamed B. Riley Wealth Management.
Kramer, a former cardiologist who also ran a New York-based physician management company, started as a broker in 2003 at NBG Securities and moved to Ladenburg in 2005, according to published reports and his BrokerCheck record.
First Republic has around 200 brokers and has been steadily building its ranks in recent years with the addition of large wirehouse and big bank teams. The private wealth division hired eight teams last year, primarily drawing from Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities.
Separately, another aggressive recruiter of veteran broker teams, Steward Partners, hired a $1.1 million producer from Wells Fargo Advisors in Midlothian outside of Richmond, Virginia.
Ronald B. Webster and Edward P. Grosso joined Steward, which is associated with Raymond James Financial Services, on Friday from Wells’ bank-based brokerage unit. The two, who moved with client associate Alice Winters, had managed $163 million in client assets, they confirmed in an interview.
Webster said that they had been frustrated by the fallout from Wells Fargo & Co.’s fake account scandal that came to light in 2016 at the consumer bank. The negative headlines and subsequent reorganization, including folding its bank-based brokers into the broader private client group, had created “ripple effects,” including more paperwork and training requirements. The firm also “pulled back” from referrals of banking customers, he said.
“The last four-and-a-half years have been tough at Wells,” Webster said. “There’s no other way to color that.”
A spokesperson for Wells declined to comment on the move and Webster’s remarks.
Webster said they had seriously considered at least one other large brokerage firm but opted for Steward because they preferred the Raymond James financial planning platform.
Webster started his career in 1998 at Merrill Lynch but left in 2002 to join Wells predecessor Wachovia, according to BrokerCheck. Grosso started at Merrill in 2000 and moved to Wachovia in 2004.
Washington D.C.-based Steward has 24 offices with 143 advisors and $18 billion in client assets, according to Jeff Gonyo, head of recruiting. Gonyo said the firm, which was founded in 2013, generated $100 million in revenue in 2020.