You would think that name recognition and brand value would still hold some sort of sway in this industry. The numbers tell a different story altogether.
The biggest losers when it comes to high-level talent in wealth management are some of the biggest names banking and wealth management has ever seen: J. P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley. All of them are taking historic talent losses and client assets are following them out the back door.
But it isn’t all about the headline. Each of those firms is ‘losing’ for very different reasons. Let’s deconstruct the dynamics of each firm.
1. J. P. Morgan – compensation and culture are the big problem here. UBS has decided to exploit those pain points for headliner Managing Directors across the country at JPM. It has worked flawlessly. Yes, recruiting deals and ongoing compensation are leading the conversation; but culture and JPM leadership being completely unable to stem the tide is a bigger issue. Outlook – systemic issues with no end in sight.
2. Merrill Lynch – a slow bleed connected to a cancerous host that is Bank of America. They changed the name to ‘Merrill’ and loaded up advisors with bank products. Every meaningful team that remains at ML is either in discussions to leave or has signed retirement deal paperwork and grinning and bearing it. Outlook – the thundering herd has been slaughtered.
3. Morgan Stanley – this story is very different than the two above. MS attrition is just that; a function of industry churn at the biggest firm on the street. Taking a closer look,
Morgan Stanley has recruited just as many teams and client assets as they’ve lost so far this year. This isn’t a culture problem or a management problem; rather an industry problem. Outlook – current talent drain will slow.
These firms are as high profile as they come and it’s a great study in culture. The way they are responding to the talent losses is very, very telling. BofA/Merrill just doesn’t seem to care, which projects institutional malaise and that the division is not integral to the larger entities’ success. JPM has no idea how to deal with what is going on at the Private Bank; which proves institutional arrogance (and incompetence). Morgan Stanley is dealing with losses by aggressively recruiting from its competitors, proving that the current trend at that firm will subside.
Three biggest losers, three different narratives, three different outcomes.