A $675 million Wells Fargo FiNet team has broken away from the wirehouse and launched an RIA with help from the independent consulting firm Fusion Financial.

Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth consists of partners Michael Landsberg, Lew Bennett and Anthony Dubbaneh. Also joining the Punta Gorda, Florida-based team is director of business development Faiza Kedir, Chief Compliance Officer Debra Cooper, advisor Flor Mendoza, planning associate Adrienne Moore, administrative assistant Lindsay Decker and portfolio analyst Tommy Williamson.

Landsberg was named to seven of the last nine Barron’s Top 1,000 Advisors lists, including in 2018. He landed at 70 this year down one spot from 69 in 2017, according to the list. Dubbaneh ranked 297th on Forbes’ Top Millennial Advisors list in 2018 as a member of Landsberg Bennett with $650 million in client assets and an average client account of at least $2 million.

Landsberg Bennett offers investment management, retirement income planning, asset protection strategies, estate and gifting strategies and personal risk management, according to a release. The firm listed eight employees on its latest Form ADV filed in July and chose Fidelity Clearing as its custodian.

Wells Fargo advisor ranks decline. Broker departures chart


The partners met while employed as advisors at Merrill Lynch, according to a press release.

“We have always considered ourselves independent,” says Landsberg of his time at Wells FiNet, “but after exploring our options we decided that launching our own firm was the right solution for our clients.”

Fusion Financial is a consulting firm founded in 2017 by HighTower veteran Mike Papedis that offers growth coaching, expertise in RIA launches and thought leadership, according to its website.

“The advisor landscape has become so complex and so deep with service-tech options and affiliation models, that it can be overwhelming — if not bewildering — for an advisor,” Papedis says. “So we wanted to form a consulting business that serves the independent advisor guild that follows the life cycle of an advisor.”

For Papedis, the independent space is the natural progression for advisors because it offers greater freedom and control over how firms are run combined with technology platforms comparable to those offered at the wirehouses.

“They are elevating the firm-to-client relationship by choosing to operate as an independent, fee-only, fiduciary advisory firm,” he says.

Total advisor head count from all channels at Wells Fargo was 14,226 in the second quarter, down by 173 from the previous quarter, according to the bank’s latest earnings report — matching an industry-wide trend of advisors moving away from the big banks. Wells pinned its losses on a slew of retiring advisors.

FiNet landed a three-person team with $400 million in client assets in March, however, partially offsetting recent losses.

Wells Fargo did not return a request for comment on the move.

Landsberg registered with Morgan Stanley in 1992, moved to Merrill Lynch in 1994 and landed at Wells Fargo in 2012, per FINRA BrokerCheck records. Bennett began his career with Merrill Lynch in 1999 and moved to Wells Fargo in 2012, per BrokerCheck. Dubbaneh began his career with Merrill Lynch in 2008 and also moved to Wells Fargo in 2012, per BrokerCheck.

Sean Allocca

Sean Allocca is an associate editor of Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant.