Slideshow Breakneck pace for breakaways in first quarter

Published
  • April 10 2017, 3:09pm EDT
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The breakneck pace of breakaway brokers transitioning to independence is going strong.

Two separate $1 billion teams leaving Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley to sign on to HighTower Advisors' outsourcing platform highlighted the flurry of Q1 breakaway moves.

HighTower's platform rival Dynasty Financial Partners also scored some major breakaway clients, while Focus Financial Partners, Snowden Lane, Raymond James and Steward Partners all added breakaway teams to their stable of advisers.

To learn more about these and other breakaway broker moves, click through our slideshow. For a look at the previous roundup of moves, see Mega breakaways: Largest teams to go indie in 2016.

HighTower opens new year with a bang, grabs $1B Wells Fargo team

A $1 billion team has left Wells Fargo to go independent with HighTower, which is coming off a robust recruiting year, having picked up a combination of 14 teams and tuck-ins in 2016, according to the firm.

HighTower says those 2016 recruits represented about $4 billion in AUM. The firm's newest recruits formed Fortress Wealth Planning in Jacksonville, Florida. The team is comprised of Founding Partners Michael Skowfoe, Eileen Ortega, Jay Rolfe and Jim Williams.

"Independence was the only option we considered," Skowfoe says.

He first heard about HighTower about two years ago, and the team, after doing its due diligence recently, was attracted to the firm's culture and platform, Skowfoe says.

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Steward Partners' recruiting streak continues with $100M hire

An adviser who oversaw $100 million in client assets moved to Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James, according to the company.

Michael Germano joined Steward Partners' New York office. He previously worked at Citigroup Personal Wealth Management, and cites Steward Partners and Raymond James' culture and technology as reasons for his move.

"I was at Citi for nearly 12 years. Solid people. But I was at a stage of my career where I was looking to be more empowered and to give my clients more flexibility," Germano tells On Wall Street.

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Ex-Union Bank duo with $480M in combined AUM goes indie

Two advisers who oversaw $480 million in total client assets for Union Bank have left to form an independent firm, Samara Capital, and join platform tru Independence, the firm said.

“We established Samara Capital as an independent business so that we would have the freedom to make investment recommendations and decisions,” Winkler said.

Winkler had been with Union Bank since 2012, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. She spent one year at Merrill Lynch at the beginning of her advisory career in 2008, the record shows. She holds a MBA in finance from the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business, according to the firm.

Kaiser was a senior portfolio manager with HighMark Capital, a subsidiary of Union Bank. Kaiser joined HighMark in 2004 to manage investment portfolios for high-net-worth investors. He began his career in 1981 in personal trust and investment management, according to his profile on HighMark’s website.

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Snowden Lane hires Morgan Stanley adviser for $400M team

A Morgan Stanley adviser left to join a team of ex-wirehouse advisers at Snowden Lane Partners, an independent firm.

Michelle Begina joined Snowden's VERITAS team in New York. The group oversees more than $400 million, according to the company.

Begina, an industry veteran of 20 years, had been with Morgan Stanley since 2008, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. She previously worked at Merrill Lynch.

She partnered with the VERITAS team in part because of shared business philosophies, Begina said in a statement.

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$300M adviser goes indie with Dynasty Financial Partners

An adviser who oversaw $300 million at Robertson Stephens has gone independent with Dynasty Financial Partners, according to a spokeswoman.

Adviser Jerry Nigro, who has previous experience working for several wirehouses, opened Claybrook Capital in Boston. He is joined by Virginia Madden who will serve as managing director, the spokeswoman said.

With Dynasty's backing, "we are positioning our new wealth management firm for future expansion," Nigro said in the statement.

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Morgan Stanley adviser with $600M goes indie with Dynasty

A Morgan Stanley adviser who managed approximately $600 million in client assets has formed an RIA with Dynasty Financial Partners, the company said.

Brian Buckley launched his eponymously named firm in Las Vegas.

He was among the latest high profile wirehouse producers to strike out on their own. In January, Dynasty helped adviser Jerry Nigro form an independent practice in Boston. He previously oversaw $300 million while at investment bank Robertson Stephens.

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HighTower recruits a second $1B wirehouse team

Two advisers have left Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley to form an independent practice with HighTower, a spokeswoman said.

The advisers previously oversaw $1 billion in client assets, per the spokeswoman. It was the second big recruiting win this year for HighTower, which said in January that it recruited another $1 billion team from Wells Fargo. That group joined HighTower in Jacksonville, Florida.

The firm's newest hires operate as Cognetic Capital Advisors in HighTower's New York office. The team consists of CEO Joel Talish, who left Wells Fargo, and Managing Director John Buffa, who departed from Morgan Stanley.

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UBS advisers jump to HighTower

A pair of breakaway UBS advisers have signed on to HighTower's platform, the third wirehouse team the hybrid RIA and broker-dealer has added to its outsourcing service this year.

The Kelly & Wohlner Group, based in Denver, is run by Jeffery Kelly and Brian Wohlner, who managed $160 million at UBS. Kelly last held the title of senior vice president of investments and senior portfolio manager in UBS' portfolio management program.

Prior to that, he worked for Morgan Stanley. At UBS, Wohlner worked as an adviser for high-net-worth clients. Before UBS, he worked for Quadriga Partners, a Denver-based investment bank and financial advisory firm.

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Merrill breakaways with $575M in AUM launch new firm

Two Merrill Lynch advisers managing about $575 million in assets left to launch a new RIA with help from Focus Financial Partners, according to the firm.

Sean Campbell and Timothy Deegan opened Campbell Deegan Financial on Feb. 17 under counseling by a Focus division aimed at teams starting new firms. Focus Independence has guided ten new companies into the aggregator's growing 45-member fold, according to the company.

The founding partners of the new Richmond, Virginia, firm first teamed up in 2013 when Deegan joined the Merrill group led by Campbell and his father. Campbell and Deegan have been running the office since the elder Campbell retired in 2015.

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Wirehouse advisers with $750M in combined AUM go indie with Dynasty

Three wirehouse advisers managing $750 million in combined client assets broke away to launch their own firm with help from Dynasty Financial Partners, according to the company.

Mark McAdams, Blake Pratz, and Steve Schwarzbach opened Icon Wealth Partners after more than two years of considering the move, Pratz says. The Houston-based firm made 40 in Dynasty’s network, double the number of rival HighTower, which also recently added recruits in an increasingly heated competition between the two for RIA business.

“We’ve been following this independent space for several years and doing due diligence,” Pratz says. “So the timing was right. The evolution of this business moving towards the independent space is growing.”

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Snowden Lane grabs $160M Merrill team in latest hire

Two Merrill Lynch advisers overseeing $160 million in client assets bolted to launch a Snowden Lane Partners office, according to their new firm.

Ryan Kirby and Chris Hayes, the Kirby-Hayes Group, joined the growing hybrid RIA in Salisbury, Maryland. The pair, who opened Snowden Lane’s eighth office, will operate under the firm’s Bethesda location to form a team managing $450 million, the company announced.

“We are expanding our regional presence and the Kirby-Hayes group is yet another partnership that makes our independent model so successful,” Snowden Lane President Greg Franks said in a statement.

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Merrill breakaway launches RIA with an eye on cross-border wealth

An ex-Merrill Lynch adviser opened a new RIA under Dynasty Financial Partners in the fifth new firm launched through Dynasty’s outsourcing platform this year.

Xerxes Mullan, a former Merrill private banking investment group broker, launched Avestar Capital in New York alongside five other ex-Merrill staffers. The new firm made 42 RIAs on the Dynasty network, compared to 20 firms on that of rival HighTower.

The large group of breakaway RIAs that “had done it successfully” with Dynasty prompted Mullan to choose the firm, he says. His company will focus, in part, on cross-border wealth planning, particularly clients with inheritances or investments in both the U.S. and India.

“We noticed that this is a segment that has been underserved by our industry,” says Mullan, 42. “One of the niche areas of our business will be in that space.”

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$112M wirehouse duo goes indie with Raymond James

Two Morgan Stanley advisers managing $112 million in client assets went independent with Raymond James, the firm said.

They became the latest wirehouse brokers to join the St. Petersburg, Florida-based firm so far this year. Earlier in March, four ex-Merrill Lynch advisers who collectively oversaw nearly $500 million in client assets switched to Raymond James, the firm said. They joined offices in Louisville, Kentucky, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The firm's newest advisers, Ashley Banks and Donna Carroll, opened their independent practice last month in Gainesville, Florida.

Banks, who previously served as a branch manager at Morgan, said they went independent in part because of Raymond James' network for women advisers as well as the company's capabilities.

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$160M adviser leaves Wells Fargo for Steward Partners

An adviser overseeing $160 million in assets is the latest to join Steward Partners, a fast-growing independent firm affiliated with Raymond James.

William Blake joined the firm from Wells Fargo in Washington. Blake, an industry veteran of three decades, says he made the move partly because the greater freedom to serve clients in new ways as well as the possibility to become an equity partner in the firm. That was particularly appealing, he says.

"The fact that everyone at the firm is a partner means that at the end of the day we're all working toward the same goal, which is serving the clients," Blake says.

Steward Partners has grown rapidly since its founding in 2013 by a group of former wirehouse managers. The firm has opened new offices and recruited advisers from big firms such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and UBS.

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Ameriprise recruits advisers with $220M in AUM

Ameriprise picked up advisers managing $222 million in client assets for its independent channel.

In the larger of the two moves, former Wedbush adviser Arthur Hoffman went independent with Ameriprise in Glendale, Arizona. He oversaw $133 million in client assets, according to Ameriprise.

Also joining Ameriprise's independent side is Jeffrey McKinnon, who left Wells Fargo Advisors. He oversees $89 million in client assets, according to Ameriprise.

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