By 4:40 on Friday afternoon, August 3rd, Warren Bischoff, director of RBC Wealth Management's Washington DC complex, was done working and was about to head downstairs to grab a beer and celebrate. It is part of his office's tradition that along with a lunch on their first day, new hires also get a happy hour at the end of week one. This week the festivities were in honor of two new hires at the firm's Chevy Chase, Md., offices: the father/son team of Paul Keats and John Keats.
It was this congenial culture that lured the two away from their positions at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's Bethesda, Maryland offices, Bischoff says. "It's a return to the old days where people loved their firms and people had pride in their firms," he says. "We're selling a quality of life. All the products are the same; what we have is an elite culture."
Paul Keats, the father in the team, was at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney for 24 years before moving and has close to four decades in the financial services industry.
"[John's] father had been there 24 years- never thought he'd leave- but just got fed up with the technology issues of the merger," Bischoff says.
Paul's son, John, has more than 20 years of experience and the together they managed $253 million in client assets, 99% of which Bischoff anticipates will follow them to RBC.
"They made the decision [to join RBC] jointly," Bischoff says. "They are a true team, and they have a really admirable father/son relationship."
Bischoff insists that RBC Wealth management is "busier than ever regarding recruiting," and he plans to add about six more people between his four regional offices. That number will fill up his slots as the firm looks primarily for more experienced advisors with high assets under management. By the end of the second quarter of 2012, RBC Wealth Management had around 2,000 advisors compared to more than 17,500 at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"We focus on experienced, senior financial advisors," Bischoff says. "I only have two trainees in my four offices. It's much higher quality, and senior financial advisors are attracted to that," he adds. "The big brands seem to be a liability to your business these days."
Bischoff believes that it is precisely that smaller size of the firm that gives it a cultural and recruiting edge that draws in wirehouse brokers even if it means taking a 10% cut in their paycheck. "We don't have the biggest deal on the street. We're 10% off the high," he says. "So, big brokers give up 10% on the deal side because they want to belong to something special."
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