Benjamin F. Edwards opens new branch, hires advisors with $220M

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Benjamin F. Edwards nabbed four wirehouse advisors managing $220 million in client assets and opened a new branch office, according to a spokeswoman.

The latest hires come as the St. Louis-based brokerage pushes forward with plans to grow its advisor base and open an RIA channel.

Since its founding in 2008, Benjamin Edwards has grown to 67 offices and more than 500 employees. The firm has had some success attracting wirehouse advisors with past experience at regional brokerages such as A.G. Edwards, a precursor to Benjamin F. Edwards. Last year, the regional firm picked up more than 30 advisors. Benjamin Edwards ended 2017 with approximately $23 billion in AUM, according to the firm.

Former Wells Fargo financial advisors Craig Belis, Christopher Cook, Chris Gant and Mike Zunini operate from Reno, Nevada, Benjamin Edwards's first branch in the state.

Belis had been with Wells Fargo since starting in the industry in 2010, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

Cook had been with the bank or predecessor firm Prudential Securities since 2003, per BrokerCheck records. Prior to working in finance, Cook worked at the FBI, according to Benjamin Edwards.

Gant is another industry veteran, with 25 years of experience in financial services, including at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Zunini got his start at Wells Fargo in 2008.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo was not available for immediate comment.

The bank, which has suffered from regulatory sanctions and fake account scandals, has suffered from attrition to its smaller rivals. At the end of the fourth quarter, Wells Fargo reported its advisor ranks dropped nearly 300 year-over-year to approximately 14,500.

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Recruiting Regional BDs Wirehouses Wirehouse advisors Career moves RIAs Benjamin Edwards Wells Fargo Advisors A.G. Edwards Prudential