BREAKING: Flagship Merrill Lynch Team in Dallas Jumps To Rockefeller; Bags $20M Dollar Deal

Rockefeller struck a little Texas gold this afternoon when they welcomed a flagship Merrill Lynch team in Dallas, Texas. The PDS Group in Dallas decided to take their talents to Rockefeller and establish a base for growing their current annual revenue from $6M to better than $10M.

The group is headlined by Darrel Preston, Gerald Dahlander, and Drew Swedlund. Together they’ve been at Merrill Lynch since 2008 and doubled their book in that time. The narrative for the move to Rockefeller is much the same.

Given the size of the practice a little math tells us that the PDS group boiled a minimum trade of $18M and potentially better than $21M in the Rockefeller recruiting deal. Rockefeller is known for ‘leveling up’ wirehouse deferred compensation balances; often increasing total deal size on the way.

Over the weekend the PDS group will be racing to transfer accounts and client balances, in the hopes of earning as much of that ‘promised’ recruiting deal as they can.


Just another reminder that Merrill Lynch continues to hemmorage big teams and not replacing them. No idea what Andy Seig and the boys are doing over there.

Rockefeller Set To Win Big In California And Texas; Announcements Scheduled Throughout The Next Three Weeks

Rockefeller remains a darling firm for larger producers. The elite advisor numbers and tire tread marks that have migrated to the firm in the past year isn’t slowing down, and if anything, is picking up momentum. Geographically, the firm is set to win big in a couple of states that matter to growing wealth management firms: Texas and California.

Speaking to ‘in the know’ wealth management recruiters who have relationships with the firm, they expect announcements to come fast and furious throughout all of June – big wins for Rockefeller.

“Things are extremely active right now and Rockefeller is really on their game. I’ve heard that they have three announcements in the can and each team is north of $5M. Big numbers in both Texas and California. They’ve recruited hard throughout the pandemic and are going to have a lot to show for it.” – said a recruiter for Rockefeller on the condition of anonymity.

“Expect announcements in Cali and Texas in June. They may come all in one week or spread out, but the deals are done, paperwork is done… just a matter of resignation letters at this point.” – said a separate recruiter on the condition of anonymity.

There continues to be a strong drumbeat for three issues that make Rockefeller intriguing. The name itself, Greg Fleming’s leadership, and the tech platform they they seem to have nearly perfected. Every single contact we have with anyone engaged with Rockefeller mentions those three points. Everyone.

With announcements pending and another couple billion of client assets set to be added to the firms coffers – the bullet points are hitting their target.

Stay tuned.

“The process remains both a legal and communication circus…”

Should it really be this way? Should the evaluation of the current market value of a business that you and your team have built, orchestrated, curated, given your heart and soul to each and every day for the last two decades, come down to sneaking off to the parking garage in an adjacent building to make a phone call to a recruiter to set up the next ‘secret’ lunch with a rival?


No, it shouldn’t be that way. You’ve earned the right to take a long look at what firm, platform, culture, and people deserve to become a partner in the next phase of your teams growth. But the recruiting process is never treated that way.


It is common knowledge that if you are discovered ‘shopping your book’ at the wires (ML, MS, UBS, WF), and most firms honestly, you are in danger of being fired for cause, fighting a U4/U5 battle, which reduces the value of your business, and dealing with questions and concerns from clients and prospects for years.


BrokerChalk is one of the only sites in wealth management that has chosen to publish recruiting deals. Why is that? Because recruiters remain afraid of running afoul of their recruiting contracts with one firm or another. Literally hundreds of recruiters know the architecture of these deals, attend annual recruiting consortiums at wealth management home offices each year, and deal with both management and executive leadership at each firm. But the fear of losing those contracts keep them in the relative shadows.


And it keeps advisors and their teams sneaking through back alleys, parking three blocks away, meeting in a ‘different town’, and using a burner cell phone to execute the process of evaluating the best home for their clients and the growth of their business going forward.


Meanwhile the rest of the world is swimming in transparency, competition, auctions, and ‘finding the best deal’ in an open and honest way. Amazon, Ebay, LetGo, CarMax, TruCar, BestBuy, etc, etc, etc. You can literally go anywhere and cross shop the cost of goods and choose your best deal (as you perceive it) free of any consequences.


Not so in the world of wealth management. If you are caught shopping your book, there could be trouble. We think this should change sooner than later.

EXCLUSIVE: RBC Lands Massive Recruiting Win In SanFrancisco; Alliance Bernstein Head Of Family Offices, Bill Grayson, Takes $6M In Annual Revenue To New Firm

This one will grab a lot of eyeballs. Especially those that exist at Alliance Bernstein. Bill Grayson, National Director for Family Offices at Bernstein Private Wealth has migrated to RBC in San Francisco. He’s taking $6M in annual production and nearly $1B in client assets with him. An absolutely massive win for RBC in the SanFran market and for inquiring minds across the country. It also sends a signal that RBC is willing to wade into the deeper recruiting waters that is private banking and family offices so to speak.

Mr. Grayson has spent 11 years as Aliiance Berstein’s head of family offices after all manner of stints on different boards of distinction. Starting his career in the financial services industry at Montgomery Securities in 1996, he migrated to JP Morgan and eventually landed at Bernstein. He’s been pivotal in growing their wealth management footprint over the past decade, but decided the ‘structure’ (code for payout) wasn’t ultimately optimal.

As you can imagine the competition for Mr. Grayson’s services were fierce given the size of his practice, and the expected ‘tail’ that should follow him to his firm of choice. RBC won the day based on all sorts of factors, but local and national leadership all played a significant role.

More to come…

Wells Fargo Wins Big In DC: Grabs $7.5M Team From UBS, Rumor Has It That’s Not All

Wells Fargo continues to be the most aggressive ‘buyer’ in the wealth management recruiting market. And based on their current print in DC they just flexed their muscles again. Capping off a wild somewhat post-COVID recruiting weekend, Wells Fargo just committed more than $25M dollars in recruiting cash to a UBS team migrating to the competing bank. Again, the numbers only tell half of the story.

Per media reports:

“In suburban Washington, DC, Wells hired David Ciccone, Thomas Harsanyi, Robert G. Taylor and David N. Litman, senior vice presidents at UBS who a source said were producing $7.5 million on about $976 million of client assets. Daniel M. Allen, a fifth advisor who is a UBS vice president, remains at the firm where he was servicing clients with about $65 million of the team’s book, another source said.”

Mr. Ciccone and his team have spent a decade at UBS after migrating to the firm in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Before that they spent another half decade at Merrill Lynch (doesn’t everyone? lol). Migrating to Wells Fargo the team did leave a few bread crumbs behind, as the commentary above states, but nearly a billion dollars in client assets is set to transfer to Wells Fargo in short order.

Many advisors are taking the opening inside of the COVID-19 bubble to seek out new firms, and take advantage of an easier transferring of assets matrix. Clients are home, less busy, have become comfortable with Zoom calls and have gone deeper with technology over the past two months. Virtually signing transfer paperwork, and a rising market throughout all of May has made conversations that much easier.

Now to the dollars and sense – landing a team like this doesn’t happen with a ‘stock’ Wells Fargo deal. Generally the terms are pushed upwards and the hurdles and pushed downward. At a minimum you can assume a 350% deal was struck here which makes the topline number a heart warming $26.25M bucks. YEET! And it wouldn’t surprise us if the number is closer to $27M.

Suppose Mr Ciccone chooses to take the ‘retirement’ backend that Wells also offers advisors when they come on board. Choosing to retire at Wells Fargo, while the client assets and production remain, would put another 200-225% in Mr Ciccone’s teams hands. That would push a potential 10 year deal well beyond $40M dollars. Wow.

Just another day in the life of wealth management recruiting.

**Btw – there is a rumor out there that the real number that UBS lost in DC is closer to $13M with another potential team’s departure yet to be announced. Keep a sharp eye out for that announcement.

BREAKING: Morgan Stanley Star Bolts For Rockefeller; Atlanta Broker Brings $300M In Assets To New Location

Rockefeller has continued to consistently win recruiting battles with larger rivals over the past two years. One could make the claim that their strategy has been the most productive across the street by a wide margin. Specific to their success versus long entrenched wirehouses offering massive deals (Rockefeller’s deal is substantial as well)

That success continued this past Friday as a rising Morgan Stanley star migrated to Rockefeller in Atlanta. Brian Lusink snatched up his $1.55M in annual production and more than $300M in assets under management and trotted them over to Rockefeller’s new offices in Atlanta. We spoke to sources at Rockefeller about the move and they were pumped about the momentum that is building in places like Atlanta.

“The strategy continues to be national in scope and this is just another win that highlights that reality. The competition for advisors that are well established and have books that are continuing to grow is fierce. This particular win has much to do with our platform and the tech that we provide – specifically its depth and the ease of use versus our competition. We really like the advantages we have in the tech space and continue to invest in ways that we believe will keep us out front. And while we are talking, keep your eyes on movement in Texas.” – a source at Rockefeller on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Lusink has been with Morgan Stanley nearly his entire career (better than 25 years) and the larger share of his practice focused on corportate retirement programs. His book grew out of his service to those retirement programs and should transfer to Rockefeller quickly because of those long-standing relationships.

Doing a little math – because that’s what we do here – the total cash register number on Mr. Lusink’s deal could top $4.5 million. A number that could be even a bit higher if Rockefeller popped for the deferred comp balances that Mr. Lusink is leaving behind at Morgan Stanley.

Finally, we continue to hear rumors of upcoming trades ‘of scale’ for Rockefeller in Texas and California. The minute they print we will be here to give you the details.


UBS Adds Massive Team In Dallas; Alliance Bernstein Vets Bring $13M Revenue, $1.5B AUM

UBS has taken an aggressive approach to recruiting ever since the bell rang on 2020. And they’ve aimed specifically at big teams in private banking roles in money center cities. The strategy is paying off big for the Swiss firm.

John Baumgarten, Cory Dowell and Chad M. Jones joined UBS this week from Alliance Bernstein after having spent nearly their entire careers there. The numerics behind the trade add up to the biggest deal seen in the industry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team claims annual revenue of more than $13 million and assets under management hover above $1.5 billion. Eye popping numbers.

As UBS stretches it’s legs even further we hear that they are close to landing two more teams of significant scale in the Northeast. We suspect that those will be announced either by the end of the month or before the middle of June. We also suspect that they will be of the private banking category as well.

As discussed in a previous article, the deal that UBS is offering these teams is substantial and aggressive. The math with a team like this, they may be cashing their upfront check to the tune of $20-25 million bucks. Eye popping numbers.

Adding to the pure deal numbers, most private banking advisors get a bump in their grid payout as well. So the totality of a decades long deal also pays them substantially more earned income year after year. In other words, what UBS is offering these teams is truly compelling.

UBS Stalking Large Goldman Sachs Teams; Pushing Their Recruiting Deal Higher For GS Elite

Goldman Sachs wealth managers have traditionally been very difficult to pry away from the firm that they’ve spent nearly their entire career with. Beyond brand loyalty their have been a few well known reasons for the ‘stickiness’ of GS folks and their clients. Employee contracts, non-solicit and non-compete policies, and even garden leaves are trail of tears that follow Goldman Sachs advisors when they leave.

Still, the books they bring with them are some of the biggest on the street and are highly sought after. UBS has decided that the ask is worth the price and has decided to focus on recruiting Goldman Sachs teams in money-center cities across the US. And the deal they are offering is uniquely aggressive.

In speaking with a recruiting contact that is familiar with both firms, the deal was laid out for us… and under some circumstances could stretch beyond 500%. Yes, you read that right.

Per our contact:

”Here is the deal for guys at GS. It is between 250-275% (not including deferred) of production with a combo of upfront and back ends. Importantly, this is a guaranteed deal and they also offer members of the team to retire so the total deal computes out to 550%. Huge commitment by UBS.”

Huge commitment indeed. The numbers speak for themselves. Say you are a team founder and 50 years old, with an ya production of $6M. Doing a little ‘back of the napkin’ math and that’s better than $33M dollars over the final decade plus of your career. Not bad work if you can get it.

So yes, UBS has made a commitment to find and reel in Goldman Sachs teams; and clearly are happy to pay whatever price is needed to book em’.

EXCLUSIVE: JP Morgan Slashes Product Payouts, Hits Annuities Hardest

JP Morgan has decided to slash advisor payouts on some packaged products as of yesterday in a memo that was viewed by BrokerChalk and discussed with several advisors at the firm. The reduction in payouts hits annuities hardest as advisors have been told that they will receive 0% upfront fees on those products, and that the fee slashing hasn’t yet come to its end.

The discussion this morning focused on the memo and that JP Morgan is using the BI standard to reduce the payouts for advisors. The JP Morgan advisors that we spoke to simply arent buying it and are convinced that this is just another ploy for the bank to book profits amidst a pandemic, using the blood, sweat, and tears of their advisors to do it.

One advisor had this to say, “You are going from an up front commission of 4% to nothing. Not that variable annuities are the lion share of the product and work that I do, but it will make a dent in my numbers going forward. The bigger issue is that the cutting probably won’t stop here. The rumor is that there is more to come. If they use the BI bullshit to hack away further at what we earn, and you know we have reduced payouts here compared to the wires; people will leave.”

Annuities have remained in the regulatory cross-hairs for essentially a decade. Just ask Ken Fisher, who claims he’d rather die than sell an annuity (he’s got other issues at the moment). Still, they are heavily regulated, legal, and at times tax efficient useful places to stash client funds.

Deciding to cut the payouts on these products without any advance notice is just another slap in the face to the advisor that practices at JP Morgan; whatever channel of theirs you are stationed in. And we suspect that the next few fee cutting announcement from the firm will be met with similar angst.

Post Coronavirus: Could Protocol 2.0 Become A Reality (we keep hearing it)

Whispers are beginning to make their way to our big ears. The exit out of the broker protocol by the likes of UBS, Morgan Stanley and other large firms has been a disaster on several fronts.

Legal fees have skyrocketed, advisor exits haven’t meaningfully slowed, the reputations of the ‘prexit’ firms have taken a further beating, and recruiting deal are either at or beyond all-time highs (see: Wells Fargo).

The broker protocol exit was supposed to be the catalyst to greatly reduce advisor movement between Wall Street firms and adjust the recruiting loan/bonuses stuck on corporate balance sheets.

While some balance sheets have leveled off (UBS) others are growing. Advisors continue to exit and have found creative ways to communicate with clients and avoid the legal entanglements connected to non-solicit and non-compete language. Mobile apps like WeChat, Telegram, WhatsApp etc allow for ongoing conversations that are simply not searchable and provide legal cover.

Which leads us to conversations we’ve heard are making their way through US wealth management board rooms. Was exiting the broker protocol a mistake? And if they were to implement a ‘Broker Protocol 2.0’, what would it look like? 

It is likely that those talks have begun. The current environment isn’t working.

Using UBS as an example, instead of exiting the protocol altogether they could have (should have) just slowed recruiting to a crawl and went significantly upmarket. Which is essentially what they’ve done anyway.

It will be interesting what to make of Protocol 2.0. We expect it to take a while to take shape, but there is no doubt it is being discussed.