Elite Broker in L.A. Joins Indie Firm After Four Years at Morgan Stanley
(Story updated with comments and confirmation from Insigneo.)
Antoine Souma, who gained notoriety last year when his former employer agreed to pay $14 million to settle complaints from one of his customers, has left Morgan Stanley’s private wealth office in downtown Los Angeles to affiliate with an independent broker.
Souma was referred to Insigneo by Indiana-based Sanctuary Wealth, an independent broker managed by several former Merrill Lynch regional executives, according to an Insigneo press release. Officials representing Sanctuary, which does not currently have an international platform, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Insigneo said the firm “collaborated on the transition.”
Souma, who joined Morgan Stanley four years ago, did not respond to requests for comment left on his personal phone number.
He was managing more than $1.4 billion of Morgan Stanley client assets, according to Insigneo, and two sources said he produced $5.2 million in fees and commissions for the firm in the previous 12 months. A third person familiar with Souma’s practice, however, said that his recent trailing-12 production had fallen to about $2.1 million on assets of about $287 million.
In 2015 and 2016 he ranked #75 and #76 on Barron’s Top 100 Advisors list, claiming typical client accounts of $30 million, but has dropped off the rankings. His Morgan Stanley website says he works with “exceptionally wealthy families…who maintain their primary residences across Europe and the Americas.” It emphasized his wealth preservation fixed-income skills and the alternative investment opportunities he could provide.
“I was impressed by Insigneo’s open platform,” he said in a prepared statement, calling the “flexibility of their platform…quite unique.”
Souma, a solo advisor, is setting up his new firm with three client associates who worked with him at Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Securities and, in two cases, Deutsche Bank Securities. Aleksandra Kulmaticki, his former advisory partner at UBS, Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan, did not join him at Morgan Stanley.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed his departure, but declined comment on the reason and on whether he owed the company money for loans or other bonuses related to his arrival four years ago after six years with J.P. Morgan Securities. Most “forgivable” loans to high-end advisors amortize over about nine or ten years.
Large wirehouses such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch in recent years have curbed servicing wealthy customers outside the U.S. because of regulatory and legal requirements aimed at preventing money laundering.
Souma’s arrival is “an important step as Insigneo continues to grow its US-based advisor network,” the firm said in its press release, noting that he was its first advisor in California.
Souma has named his new business Galliott Capital Advisors, according to his LinkedIn profile, which directs readers to a photo of a yacht (a galliott is a small boat), and articles about buying ranches, armored cars and private security services.
J.P. Morgan Securities in 2019 reached a $14 million settlement with Ziad Ghandour, a private equity firm founder and oil-and-gas investor who alleged that Souma traded excessively and unsuitably in his account and falsified performance reports, among other complaints. The customer had sought more than $20 million, according to Souma’s BrokerCheck record and filings with state regulators.
Souma did not contribute to the settlement and “vehemently denies the claimant’s allegations,” he wrote in his regulatory filing.
Ghandour, owner of Los Angeles-based TI Capital, did not return a request for comment about Souma’s move to Insigneo.
Sanctuary has been attracting primarily wirehouse brokers since former Merrill midwest region director Jim Dickson helped found the independent firm two years ago and hired several Merrill colleagues to help him recruit. It has announced three new teams in the past month, including six Morgan Stanley advisors in Kansas last week who were managing $500 million in client assets.
Insigneo was created in 2017 when Global Investor Services, a platform provider for international wealth advisors formerly known as Hencorp Becstone Securities, merged with Northeast Securities. It manages more than $8 billion among about 150 advisors, according to its press release.
Insigneo Securities prohibits its brokers and its RIA’s investment advisor reps from selling Class A fund shares and receiving fund trail commissions, according to its March 2020 ADV disclosure. Pershing LLC, its clearing firm, pays it cash incentives for placing brokerage and RIA assets on the Pershing platform.