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Recruiting is a chess game that is played in the ‘high stakes’ room of every wealth management organization we cover. Management, legal, compliance, regulatory, and then the advisors themselves are walking a tightrope from start to finish. you want proof? Below is a reminder of how the smallest of mistakes can literally fire bomb your career. Read on…

If you needed any further proof that dancing with a leviathan like Morgan Stanley is a dangerous game, just ask former brokers Christopher Armstrong and Randall Kiefner. There careers have been flipped upside down and inside out.

They recently left Charles Schwab for Morgan Stanley in a somewhat celebrated transition. Morgan Stanley was happy to promote the move and talk about AUM and the newest advisors in New Jersey and Florida.

But that tune changed quickly. Morgan Stanley fired the duo three weeks later when Schwab filed suit and a TRO based on paperwork printed out by the duo when leaving their former firm.

You can imagine the kind words and promises that were exchanged during the recruitment. Of course Morgan Stanley’s in house counsel took a scalpel to their Schwab employment contracts and probably even provided guidance on how to transition. All manner of ‘we got your back’ discussions were surely had.

Except, they didn’t.

Now the two advisors, who pushed the print icon on their Schwab desktops for 15-ish clients are now looking for work. Neither Schwab or Morgan Stanley has the ‘best interest’ of these men or their clients in mind. Instead of assisting in a short and relatively simple legal fight they deemed it easier to send them packing with a swift kick in the ass. Thanks.

The moral of the story here is this. Be careful, very, very careful with whom you choose to get in bed with these days. The deal may look appealing and the promises (not on paper mind you) may sound great; ultimately you are held responsible for your career. It may help to see these firms as a means to an end, and not true partners. Maybe not adversaries, but legal entities to be carefully considered before tethering oneself to for the next decade of your career.

What a disaster this is for these two guys. Maybe a tip to the two of them, and other advisors about to transition. Please familiarize yourself with encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or even Snap. Ask your teenage kids how it’s done. Oof.

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