Wirehouse Wars: UBS Nabs $5.9-Mln Morgan Stanley Team in Houston
A six-person Morgan Stanley private wealth team overseeing $1.1 billion in assets has joined UBS Wealth Management USA in Houston, Texas, according to an announcement on Thursday.
The trio generated $5.9 million in annual revenue in the past 12 months for Morgan Stanley, a source familiar with their practice said. They had been managing around $885 million when they left Merrill Lynch nine years ago to join Morgan Stanley, according to published reports at the time.
The Fortneys, each of whom were managing directors at Morgan Stanley’s private wealth unit, will retain the revenue-dependent title at their new firm, the UBS announcement said. Nichley, who began his brokerage career in 2010 at Merrill and who moved to Morgan Stanley concurrently with the Fortneys, joined UBS as a senior vice president. He was a first vice president at Morgan Stanley.
Grant Fortney ranked this year as a Forbes’ Best-in-Texas Wealth Advisor. His brother ranked in 2010 and 2011 as a Barron’s Top 100 Advisor.
Scott Fortney began his brokerage career in 1998 in Houston with Merrill Lynch, leaving in January 2012 for Morgan Stanley, according to his BrokerCheck history. Grant first registered as a rep with a U.S. unit of Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2002, but joined Merrill in Houston in 2003 and left concurrently with his brother for Morgan Stanley.
The Fortneys were allowed to voluntarily resign from Merrill after allegations of recordkeeping and marketing violations involving options trades for customers, according to their BrokerCheck records. They wrote in their comments that they had made a “procedural error” with order tickets following oral instructions to the firm’s trading desk, and had been told by Merrill management that the firm would continue to support them.
“Our subsequent and completely voluntary resignation from Merrill Lynch was based on the leadership and resources available to our team and our clients at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management,” they wrote.
UBS said on Thursday that it also hired three of the advisors’ associates: wealth strategist Brandon Frey and registered client service associates Tami Grove and Mary Patranella.
A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment, and a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
UBS and Morgan Stanley withdrew from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting four years ago when they were cutting hiring budgets, but in the past year have begun selective recruiting. Recruiting loans on Morgan Stanley’s balance sheet rose for the first time in eight years in 2020. UBS in December hired three Merrill Lynch brokers in Houston, including Joe Zurfley, a former producing manager at Merrill.
The loss of the private wealth team is the second at Morgan Stanley this week. Hans Maentz and Bern Machlovitch, who had managed $1.5 billion, joined Rockefeller Capital Management on Thursday. About 500 of Morgan Stanley’s almost 16,000 advisors work in the private wealth group, which nominally services clients with at least $10 million of investable assets.