Breaking away from the cocoon of a brokerage to go independent takes backbone. Try confronting your old colleagues, now rivals, every day because you work in the same building.

That’s life for Jeff Sica, the president and chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management, which launched May 29. Up until then, Sica was managing director of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors. He started at Ryan Beck, and went to A.G. Edwards, which eventually became part of Wells Fargo. He has been in the business for over 17 years.

Sica opened his office in the same building where Wells Fargo Advisors occupies space in Morristown, N.J. When he pulled up to debut Sica Wealth Management, eight clients from his former firm were lined up outside waiting. It was a good start, because they represented between $30 million and $40 million in assets.

It gets better — or worse — depending on your perspective. Wells Fargo Advisors pass Sica Wealth Management — and $1 billion worth of business — every day before they ride the elevator to their offices.

Sometimes they pass old colleagues, like Cheryl Costa, Sica Wealth Management’s director of operations. She was a branch manager in the area, overseeing 65 advisors at one point. This doesn’t mean that Sica is gloating. He considered some of those Wells Fargo professionals his friends. He’s even gone to baby christenings. But his decision to leave and go independent, ultimately strained friendships.

“It affects me to see them,” Sica said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “They’ll walk by and I know that a half an hour before they called one of my clients and tried to take them.”

So why not just leave the building? Sica says he has deep roots in that very spot. He has worked there for 15 years, and people know where to find him. Besides, he’s worked hard on his business, putting in 18-hour workdays to get it off the ground.

Sica said that for years, his clients were encouraging him to break away and do something different. They wanted more access to alternative investments like private equity real estate. They hankered for robust, fresh research. And although they could count on good service at Wells Fargo, Sica said, they couldn’t invest their money the way they wanted. Wells Fargo could not be reached for comment.

For now, Sica Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Advisors coexist on East Park Place, a desirable location across from the center of town, the Morristown Green. Sica custodies with Schwab Advisor Services, a unit of Charles Schwab [SCHW], and heads up a company of 20 professionals and staff. Until the awkwardness of former friends competing for millions in business, at least they have nice digs.

* * *

Also on the move this week:

AUL Retirement Services, which based in Indianapolis, hired James Gilligan as a regional sales director of the regional retirement services office in Orlando. He was managing director for the MassMutual Financial Group previously.

Citi Private Bank has hired Martin Rosa as director and private banker of its Chicago office. He had been a senior vice president of HSBC, focused on ultra-high-net worth families. Robby Perry will join Citi Private Bank’s Dallas office as a managing director and private banker. He was a managing director at J.P. Morgan Private Wealth Management, where he was focused on ultra-high-net-worth families.

HSBC Private Bank appointed Mark Pittsey as a managing director and regional manager for the Bay Area and the Northwest region of the United States. He was managing director and office director for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in San Francisco.

Hartford Financial named George Eknaian as a chief actuary for its wealth management business. He was head of enterprise risk management for the firm’s global variable annuity business. This is part of Eknaian’s second stint at The Hartford. He first joined the company in 1997 and spent two years directing pricing and product development for the firm’s institutional business. The company also named Sharon Ritchey as executive vice president of retirement plans. Ritchey had been senior vice president of property & casualty operations.

Putnam Investments, which is based in Boston, hired W. Van Harlow as a director of investment retirement solutions. He will also focus on developing asset allocation tools, and planning methodologies as used by financial advisors, consultants and plan sponsors.

Securian Trust Co., which based in St. Paul, Minn., named Sarah Monke president. She joined Securian Financial Group’s broker-dealer group in 1999 and was manager of compliance services.

Silver Bridge, a wealth advisory firm based in Boston, Mass., appointed Kevin M. Fretz as a client advisor in the firm’s mid-Atlantic office. He had worked at the Wilmington Family Office.

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