$230M Wells Fargo team goes indie with Raymond James

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Two Wells Fargo advisers managing $230 million in client assets with more than $1.6 million in annual production bolted for Raymond James’ independent channel.

John Houchin and Jim Ernst of Houchin Ernst Wealth Advisors moved over to Raymond James Financial Services in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, their new firm announced this week. The firm’s 4,221 independent advisers comprise 58% of its headcount, according to Raymond James.

The pair joined the firm on the same day as another former Wells Fargo team that now shares the same office with them. Wells Fargo has lost more than 500 advisers in the past three quarters, and recruiting pullbacks at the other wirehouses have also presented Raymond James with an opening.

“Quite frankly, I don’t ever want to make another move,” says Houchin, 53. “We weren’t looking for a paycheck. We were looking for what was the best fit for our clients.”

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A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo Advisors declined to comment on their departures.

Houchin and Ernst, 40, started at Raymond James on June 2. They met roughly 15 years ago when they both worked at Banc of America under the same office of supervisory jurisdiction, Houchin says. The pair formed a team in Palm Beach Gardens a few years after both came aboard at Wells Fargo in 2008.

Houchin started his career at Great Western Financial Securities in 1991, eventually spending four years at Barnett Investments and nine years at Banc of America, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. Ernst began at First Investors in 2000, working at Banc of America from 2001 to 2008.

Longtime client service associate Linda Davis also switched to Raymond James as part of the team, which reports to Raymond James Financial Services southeast regional director Jodi Perry. The St. Petersburg-based firm’s name appeal in Florida also played a role in the move, Houchin says.

The firm’s indie channel, which boasts the third largest revenue among IBDs, has scored several recent recruits. The other ex-Wells Fargo team that switched over in June had managed $500 million in client assets, and another team managing $275 million joined from Wells Fargo’s independent segment.

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