Advisors Al Weaver and John Worcester had reached a breaking point.
They had been with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, now Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, for 21 years and "never entertained talking to anybody," Worcester said. Initially, when a recruiter from Ameriprise had approached the two about changing firms, the two men, who have been a team for that entire time, agreed, but only, "because it sounded like a good place to go to dinner," Worcester said.
Recently, however, they revisited the offer.
"It just got worse and worse, and it seems to be really falling apart there [at Morgan Stanley] at an increasingly fast pace, and I said, 'I think we have to," Worcester said. He added that he and Weaver (who has 35 years of experience in the brokerage industry) had become frustrated since Morgan Stanley took ownership over the firm in 2009 deal with Citigroup. Worcester pointed to high fees, limited access to products, and difficulties regarding changes in their technology and infrastructure back in July.
"We weren't getting product and we couldn't execute the trade," said Worcester, who began his career in 1993 with Smith Barney; the same time that he teamed up with Weaver. "Al has found out in particular and even myself to some degree with our accounts, some were seriously considering leaving us simply because they couldn't handle Morgan anymore. So it's been a great move for the individuals," he said.
A spokesperson for Morgan Stanley had no comment on the viewpoints espoused by Worcester.
Meanwhile, the two men arrived at their new Ameriprise offices in Westborough, Mass., on Monday and have since been in the process of moving their clients over. The team has more than $1 million in production based on managing $146 million in client assets. And Worcester said he and his teammate have found that clients were receptive to the move. "We're reaching out to all of them and helping them fill out paper work and making sure they understand why we're over here and what it means to them," Worcester said. "It's really a move for the clients."