Morgan Stanley Push: Recruiters Make Claims “…they are being very aggressive.”

Morgan Stanley re-entered the recruiting sweepstakes, post protocol exit, late last year with a bang. After leading the wires (along side Wells Fargo) in losing headcount to the resurgent regional space over the past two years Morgan Stanley has been very aggressive in recruiting large teams away from their rival wires. They’ve had specific success in recruiting away large teams from Wells Fargo and UBS.

There is a good reason why those teams are listening to Morgan Stanley’s pitch. Besides the requisite largess of the firm as a global investment bank that competes directly with the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan – the firm *dolla dolla bills y’all* recruiting deal is massive. If you play your cards right you cash in to the tune of 250% in the first 4-6 months at your new desk. All in, the firm has been known to pay the biggest and most visible teams more than 350% when you count deferred comp recovery payments. Huge.

Doing a little math – if you are a $3M dollar team in, say, Washington DC the numbers quickly skyrocket. You walk in the door and receive a check for $6M dollars (200% upfront). Transfer 50% of your assets in the first 180 days and you will be handed another $1.5M dollars. By the time you’ve hung a few pictures in your office and have finally figured out how to use the firms CRM software you are $7.5M dollars to the good.

That puts butts in the seats. The total of 250% within your first 180 days at the firm is an eye opener and sets the wirehouse apart from rivals. The low barrier of entry on that extra 50% is a dealmaker as well. Big teams find themselves intrigued by it and finding ways to justify tethering themselves to the firm for the rest of their careers.

Speaking to a long tenured recruiter about Morgan Stanley’s current push:

“They are being aggressive in specific markets with teams that are north of the $2m dollar mark. The aggression largely has to do with the funds added on the deferred comp end of things, but also moving hurdles around to make the deal more ‘gettable’ in the short term. Teams are responding to the flexibility that comes with a 350% deal, most of which you essentially get up front. My guess is that they will remain aggressive coming out of the pandemic and try to scoop up some headliners. I know that is what the current thinking is with Saperstein.”

The pandemic issues have brought a uniqueness to recruiting with a particular set of circumstances that can be exploited. In some specific locations clients are still locked in quarantine and much easier to reach. Reaching them, though, has its challenges as advisors can’t get face to face to process ACAT documentation. Still, the narrative has been that transfers have been swifter based on clients availability and lack of distractions.

Clearly, Morgan Stanley is focused on capitalizing in whatever way they can.

Morgan Stanley And UBS: Non-Protocol Firms Aggressively Stalk Private Banking Teams

A clear narrative is shaping up amongst wirehouse rivals Morgan Stanley and UBS. As both firms exited the broker protocol within weeks of each other their recruiting strategies have begun to mirror each other as well. Both firms have decided that aggressively pursuing private banking teams at the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bernstein, Bessemer Trust, and even J.P. Morgan is a pathway to stability and revenue growth in their all-important wealth divisions.

Over the first six months of 2020, even with the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest, UBS continues to announce large team acquisitions that hail from the private banking sector. Managers across the US, at the swiss-based firm, have confirmed to us that deal negotiations no longer include private banking discounts – rather, UBS is paying full freight, and then some, for private banking teams of scale. This is a dramatic shift from years of recruiting teams that may include employment contracts laced with non-compete, non-solicit, and even garden leave language. UBS has decided that it is worth the legal risk.

Morgan Stanley isn’t far behind and is quickly learning from its rival that leaning into the private banking space makes a lot of dollars and sense. Morgan Stanley has begun to back away from any discounting of private banking team deal dollars and treating advisors and their teams no differently than an elite level Merrill Lynch recruit. Again, a major shift in both philosophy and execution.

It now looks like the unrest in markets and potential larger-scale disruption to books of business is on hold, but the impetus to switch firms looks to be at or near all-time highs. Why? The nearly 40% haircut that occurred in a furiously fast downturn spooked a lot of advisors and woke them up to the long-term value of monetizing their hard work right now. Adjusting policies around recruiting deals and the who/what/where/why matrix seems to have shifted at both UBS and Morgan Stanley.

So far, UBS is seeing real dividends in landed recruits. We expect Morgan Stanley to follow suit as the year moves forward.

RUMOR: UBS Set To Land Massive Goldman Sachs Team; Could Be $15M+ Rev, $5B+ AUM

There are rumors swirling within the wealth management world that UBS is about to land a massive Goldman Sachs private banking team. Sources at UBS have passively confirmed the potential move with a wink and a smile via text and signaled that we should keep a sharp eye out for a pending announcement.

UBS has taken considerable interest in Goldman Sachs advisors and larger teams over the past six months and ‘leaned in’ to those recruitments inside of the COVID-19 pause in the industry. The expectation is that this particular transaction is pending and will trade in less than 30 days.

As UBS pursues private banking teams they’ve also taken an interest in Alliance Bernstein, and J.P. Morgan. Private banking teams of scale have engaged with UBS often because of the largess of the deal being offered.

Historically these types of teams have been offered discounted deals based on the perceived stickiness of the assets that they manage at their current firm. UBS has decided that those rules don’t apply anymore and are offering ‘wire to wire’ traditional deal terms to pry away the biggest teams.

When this deal finally closes we could be looking at a number larger than $50M in total bonus dollars.

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.