Whose Next? As Private Banking Recruiting Ramps Up Which Wirehouse Is Set To Benefit Next

The ranks of ‘private bankers’ at global investment banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have become some of the most sought after recruits in 2020. Their relative books of business have been dubbed more portable than previously believed and the market is beginning to reflect it.

We’ve previously discussed that UBS has been committed to and benefiting from recruiting ‘non-traditional’ teams in the past year, but we wonder, who’s next? What firm might be the next to jump into the fray and begin valuing these groups based on their stated revenue as opposed to their W2 personal income?

As of this post, we aren’t sure who it might be, but we think it makes sense for both Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch (ML has dipped their toe into the private banking waters a bit already). Wells Fargo’s inclusion is obvious – they need the good press, momentum, and to replace the advisors that have walked away from the firm over the past two years.

And Merrill Lynch – it’s well documented that every headline associated with a team leaving BofA/ML isn’t a small fish. Big teams have been leaving ML for years. Adding outsized assets and revenue by way of private banking teams would serve the firm well.

No matter who it is, they aren’t getting anywhere until they begin to adjust their recruiting deals away from W2 income. Someone is going to catch up to UBS – let’s see who gets there first.


Rumored JP Morgan Securities Protocol Exit Could Damage Practice Valuations, Complicate Transitions

In a move that may not surprise anyone (given the continuing consolidation of advisors inside the JP Morgan ecosystem), we are hearing that JP Morgan Securities is about to bow out of the broker protocol.

The move would serve to make it more difficult, and incrementally litigious, for advisors at the firm to move to a competitor. Should these rumors be ultimately true every advisor of note at JPMS should be scurrying to gather their due diligence on potential greener pastures – a protocol exit is an easy sell when convincing clients why you chose to leave the bank.

JP Morgan has made a concerted effort to consolidate Chase, JPMS, and the Private Bank in hopes to make sure the client experience is the same across all platforms (i.e. lending, asset management, reporting, trust, and estates). The idea being: if there is one client- there is one advisor.

That advisor representing the entire firm, though, should endure the same restrictions (non-solicit, non-compete, and non-protocol) as their brethren at Chase and the firms Private Bank.

Make no mistake, a protocol exit for JPMS advisors will have a direct effect on their practice valuations. In the same way that UBS and Morgan Stanley teams were adversely affected in the months following each firm’s protocol exits; the same dynamic will be in play for JPMS advisors. The smart move is to act with purpose and urgency.


Moderna Valuation a Concern for JP Morgan

Moderna (MRNA) has surged over 300% since the start of the year. Analysts at JP Morgan, concerned about the company’s valuation, have downgraded the stock to neutral.

Other industry experts agree. Mani Faroohar, a top analyst at SVB Leerink, outlined a scenario this week where Moderna may drop to as little as $19 a share by the end of the year. He called their current valuation of $32 billion “unappealing” when evaluating risk versus reward.

The main area of concern is whether or not the smaller Moderna can compete against pharma giants like AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Despite receiving $483 million in Covid-19 funding from the federal government, Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge refuses to discuss pricing.

“We will not sell it at cost,” Hoge stated at a hearing before the House energy committee this week. He may not have a choice. The NIH is claiming intellectual property rights due the government’s investment into the vaccine’s development. They want it at or below cost.

Moderna has never successfully brought an approved product to the market. Their vaccine is considered one of the frontrunners in the race due to positive clinical trials, but there’s still a long road ahead. Maneuvering for profit may not be the best approach right now.

Kolanovic: Market not Properly Pricing Covid-19 Surge or 2020 Election

In other news, Marko Kolanovic, JP Morgan’s global head of macro quantitative and derivatives research, has released a report on pricing anomalies during the Covid-19 surge. It attempts to explain why value stocks are vastly underbought while growth stocks continue to thrive.

“Investors are worried about the surge in Covid-19 infections,” Kolanovic stated. “The possible election of former VP Joe Biden also raises concerns about long-term value investments.”

The study shows that buyers are opting for growth stocks while the market is still in an uptrend. Meanwhile, Aroon and momentum indicators are driving traders away from value positions. It’s possible that the trend may reverse after the election, depending on results.

Pfizer Signs $1.5 Million Vaccine Deal with Pentagon

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced a $1.95 billion deal to buy 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and their German-based partner BioNTech. The deal is dependent on the completion of successful clinical trials and FDA approval.

BioNTech announced a share sale on Tuesday to raise cash so that Pfizer can become a shareholder in their company. Their current market cap is $21 billion.

JP Morgan, along with Bank of America, and Berenberg, is organizing the deal.

In January of this year, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer Inc, was a fireside chat speaker at JP Morgan’s Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. At the time, he claimed that his company was “underappreciated” and touted their recent and upcoming successes.

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, was not on the speakers’ list for the conference. Vaccine development wasn’t on the agenda. US consumer drug pricing was a hot topic.

AstraZeneca, formerly considered a frontrunner in the vaccine race, released data on their clinical trials this week. Analyst Ronny Gal from Bernstein said it “failed to impress.” Peter Wellford at Jefferies claimed the share price move was “overdone.”

It looks like a two-horse race. JP Morgan appears to be betting on Pfizer.