Wire Wars: Wells Nabs $7-Million Team Led by 30-Year UBS Vet in Newport Beach
Wells Fargo Advisors on Wednesday pulled from UBS Wealth Management USA a 10-person team that had been generating $7 million in annual revenue at the wirehouse, a spokeswoman for Wells confirmed.
The group, which is keeping their moniker OnPointe Wealth, is led by Lawrence E. “Larry” Smith, who had been with UBS since 1990. They joined Wells’ Private Client Group office in Newport Beach, California from a UBS branch in Brea, according to their BrokerCheck records, which did not yet reflect their transition as of Wednesday afternoon.
Smith, a managing director, is joined by three additional advisors–senior vice president C. Scott Sutcliff, and vice presidents Linda Lyons and Alexandra “Alex” Nichols–and six support staffers. They had jointly managed $800 million in client assets at their former firm, according to the Wells spokeswoman.
“A move like this takes a lot of due diligence,” Smith said in a video posted to the team’s new website explaining their move to customers. “However, we felt the recent changes in the culture and direction of our former company raised concerns about our ability to maintain the high level of service, choice, and objectivity that we value.”
Smith, who was also an institutional consultant, according to his former online bio, and his team did not return a call for additional comment at their new office. A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on the departure or his comments in the video, an increasingly popular way for brokers to inform customers about a move.
UBS in 2017 withdrew from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, an industry agreement that allows brokers to take customer information or solicit to their former clients to join them at their new firm. Wells remains a member of the agreement, but both firms must be signatories for it to apply.
Smith, a 37-year industry veteran who ranked fifth on Forbes’ 2021 list of “Best-in-State” wealth advisors, started his career with Merrill Lynch in 1984, according to his BrokerCheck report. He lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Diamond Bar, where his wife is two-term mayor, according to her online bio.
Smith indicated in the video that the move may lead into his eventual retirement.
“Although I plan to work another 15 years, God willing, I have also been setting up my legacy and a succession plan that allows our clients to be well taken care of including their kids and the generations to come,” he said in the video, which also cited local management and Wells’ use of cloud technology as reasons for their move.
Sutcliff, a 28-year industry veteran, had been with UBS since 2009, joining from Merrill, where he started his career in 1992, according to the database.
Lyons had spent all of her 21 years in the industry with UBS, joining in 2000, while Nichols started her career at the firm in 2014, according to the database.
The team will report to Wells’ Newport Beach branch manager John Draper, whose office is overseen by market leader David Kistner.
Wells this month reported 12,819 advisors in its Wealth and Investment Management unit as of the end of June, representing a nearly 10% year-over-year decline from 14,206 and a 3.4% dip from 13,277 the first quarter. The firm at the time of its second quarter earnings touted a “stronger” recruiting pipeline for the second half of the year and has been dangling offers of up to 340% of trailing-12 revenue including upfront and back-end bonuses for large teams.
-Mason Braswell contributed to this story.