Wells Fargo recruiting surges, picks off advisors from UBS and Morgan Stanley

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Wells Fargo is on a recruiting hot streak.

In the past four weeks, the firm has plucked more than a dozen advisors from rivals UBS and Morgan Stanley. They managed more than $1 billion in combined client assets, a spokeswoman confirms.

The new recruits are doing their part to help offset the advisor attrition the firm has experienced in recent years.

Advisor headcount stood at 13,450 for the first quarter, down approximately 1,500 advisors since the third quarter of 2016 when Wells Fargo’s banking scandals first came to light.

Wells Fargo’s new hires also present another indication that an industrywide recruiting slowdown due to the coronavirus earlier this year has passed. The wirehouse and other firms transformed recruiting processes into virtual formats in order to better comply with social distancing guidelines and other restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“For some, it’s a good time to move because it’s hard for [their former] firms to go after their books,” says Michael King, a recruiter. Wells Fargo in particular, he says, may have turned the corner on its advisor attrition challenge.

The firm’s managers have been “eagerly” supporting recruiting efforts, according to Elizabeth Quillin, director of internal recruiting and FA integration and growth for Wells Fargo Advisors.

“While the pandemic has prompted us to recruit differently — with virtual leader meetings, for example — our outreach has not slowed,” Quillin said in a statement.

The new additions include an advisor with five decades of experience in the business, plus his two sons.
June 11

The most recent addition at Wells Fargo is a former UBS team that generated $7.6 million in annual revenue. The Birmingham, Alabama-based team includes advisors Nathan Collums, Drew Cundiff, Jim Kline, Heath Henderson, Jamie Holman and Steve Rice. Also moving with the team are registered client associates Melissa Hines, Darlene Beck, Ellen Clarke and Cassie Thomson as well as senior client associate Haley Brown.

Several of the team members are industry veterans. Cundiff, Kline, Holman and Rice each have more than two decades of experience in the business. Columns and Henderson have logged 19 and 16 years, respectively, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

A UBS spokesman declined to comment on the team’s departure.

Other recent hires at Wells Fargo include two former UBS teams based in Beverly Hills, California and New York that managed $350 million and $240 million, respectively: Don Wyse and David Trent on the West Coast and Brendan Bruder and Daniel McLoughlin on the East Coast.

Like Wells Fargo, UBS has seen a number of advisor exits in recent years. Headcount for the firm’s Americas unit — which includes advisors outside the U.S. — is approximately 6,400, according to the company’s most recent earnings report. That’s down from the 8,700 advisors UBS counted in its Wealth Management Americas business for the first quarter of 2009.

Recent departures include advisors Don Wyse and David Trent, who left the firm for Wells Fargo earlier this month. They are based in Beverly Hills, California.

And in St. Petersburg, Florida, a former UBS team led by advisor Matthew Kilgroe left to open an independent firm with backing from Dynasty Financial Partners. Kilgroe’s team previously oversaw $1.2 billion.

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