Wells Fargo & Co signage is displayed on the Wells Fargo Center skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 7, 2015. Wells Fargo & Co. is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on July 14. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
2016’s largest breakaway moves
The exodus to independence saw a moderate drop-off this year among top-tier advisers. The biggest teams to exit the traditional brokerage model managed a combined $13.3 billion in client assets, and most of them were below the billion-dollar mark. That figure was $18.5 billion in 2015, according to On Wall Street reporting.
Still, plenty of advisers are opting to open their own shops in search of greater autonomy and a work culture free from what they criticize as intense sales pressures at the traditional brokerage firms.
Firms with independent channels, such as Raymond James and Wells Fargo, as well as hybrid platforms like Dynasty were the top beneficiaries this year.
To see where the biggest breakaways went in 2016, and why they did it, click through our slideshow.
33-year Merrill veteran goes indie with Dynasty
A Merrill Lynch adviser with $400 million in client assets went independent with Dynasty Financial Partners, a spokeswoman said.
Miguel Sosa opened Premia Global Advisors in Coral Gables, Florida, and will focus on international high-net-worth families and institutions, according to Dynasty.
Sosa points to Dynasty’s comprehensive wealth management service and attributes as the motivation behind his decision to join the firm. “As an independent firm, we are now in a position to simplify [our clients’] financial lives by offering one of the most advanced platform of services, research and products available,” Sosa said.
Sosa started his career with Merrill Lynch in 1982, FINRA BrokerCheck records show.
$500M Morgan Stanley team joins HighTower
A team that managed $500 million in client assets left Morgan Stanley to join HighTower, a spokeswoman said.
Led by advisers Thomas Foley and Keith Hier, the team opened a new HighTower location in Omaha, Nebraska, the firm's first office in the Cornhusker state. Other team members include Tom Hodgson, financial planning and analytics manager, and Tina Legett, senior client relations manager.
Foley said in a statement that the team made the switch to "HighTower for its sophisticated platform and culture of excellence, both of which will help us address our clients' complex needs and grow our business."
Foley started his career at Smith Barney in 1995, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. He stayed through that firm's merger with Morgan Stanley. Hier also started his career at Smith Barney in 2004.
Dynasty Financial Partners nabbed four breakaway advisers from Merrill Lynch, who have formed a "multilingual, multigenerational" firm focused on high-net-worth entrepreneurs globally, according to the firm.
The advisers sought to build a practice “unconstrained by the structure of a one-firm model,” Elizabeth van Walleghem, who co-founded the firm with Thomas Butler, said in a statement. The two had previous responsibility for managing $550 million in client assets.
Their new firm, Coral Gables, Florida-based Maximai Investment Partners, specializes in serving clients with ties to Latin America. Advisers Alejandro Behrens and Daniella Viete, along with Ana Bueso, the new firm's manager of client services, also left Merrill to join the practice.
Morgan adviser with $570M AUM goes indie with Steward Partners
A Morgan Stanley adviser with more than $570 million in client assets went independent with Steward Partners, the firm said.
Eric Beiley joined the Raymond James affiliated-firm started by former wirehouse advisors as a founding partner, according a statement from Steward Partners. Beiley managed more than $570 million in client assets while at Morgan and had a total production of $3.65 million, the statement says. His production level, according to Steward Partners, makes Beiley one of the largest single producers to join Raymond James’ independent channel.
"I was impressed with the leadership and the transition team Steward Partners was able to assemble for me and my practice," Beiley says in a statement.
Morgan Stanley loses 4 advisers with $600M AUM to startup
Four breakaway Morgan Stanley advisers aim to focus on their clients' and advisers' "financial, mental and physical" health through a new and unusual partnership with retirement plan consultant MGO Investment Advisors.
The ex-wirehouse advisers – Todd Resnick, Michael Mawby, Stuart Gertman and Bruce Greenwald – managed $600 million in client assets at Morgan, Resnick says. They are now affiliated with independent broker-dealer Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.
One Seven, the founders' preferred shorthand for their new name, has offices in Cleveland and Park City, and hopes to attract many more advisers to join them at the firm, according to Resnick.
The seven advisers named the company after their shared vision to provide broadly comprehensive holistic advice to their clients and to move away from sales practices common in wirehouses, Resnick says.
A former wirehouse advisor, who manages more than $663 million in client assets, joined Wells Fargo Advisor Financial Network, a spokeswoman said.
Jim Murray previously held positions at U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch, both units of Bank of America, according to a Wells Fargo spokeswoman.
He opened Guidestar Private Wealth Management in West Lake Village, California. Besides being Guidestar's founder and managing principle, Murray also supervises the firm's investment portfolio, a spokeswoman said.
"I took a look at my career and decided I need to take charge of my clients and own my business. Going off on my own and opening GuideStar rejuvenated the sense of excitement I feel when I go into work every day," says Murray.
Two advisers who managed $750 million left Lebenthal Wealth Advisors to start their own firm with backing from Dynasty Financial Partners, according to a Dynasty spokeswoman.
Carrie Gallaway and Andrew Stern, former wirehouse advisers, are opening YorkBridge Wealth Partners in Bridgehampton, New York, and are joined by several former Lebenthal executives, including Jeffrey Lane who served as chairman of the board for Lebenthal Holdings.
A Wells Fargo team that oversees more than $1.7 billion left to join Noyes, an independent broker-dealer, according to a spokesman.
The Cooke Financial Group, led by brothers Chris and Brian Cooke, joined the firm as partners and opened a new branch for Noyes in Indianapolis. CEO Mark Damer said in a statement that it's now Noyes' largest branch office. Damer added that the new hires demonstrate how Noyes is an attractive place for wirehouse advisers to do business.
Chris Cooke said they were drawn to make the move in part because of Noyes' culture.
"Merging with Noyes will enable us to eliminate the conflict of interest that may arise by being associated with a wirehouse, gain access to a wider selection of investment products, and serve more affluent clients," Cooke said in a statement.
$7B Wells Fargo PCG team goes indie with Raymond James
An adviser team overseeing nearly $7 billion in assets for the Private Client Group at Wells Fargo Advisors has gone independent with Raymond James, the firm said.
Next Retirement Solutions specializes in retirement consulting and planning, including institutions. The firm has offices in California, Illinois and Missouri.
Next Retirement Solutions founder Paul Neuner, who currently serves as managing director, partner and financial adviser; says the move to Raymond James will allow his team better opportunities to meet their client companies’ unique needs.
Kevin McFarland, the firm's senior vice president of finance and operations, also serves as an adviser and partner, according to the firm.
Other team members include Dominic Repetti, adviser, partner and senior vice president of relationship management; Neelab Naibkhyl, adviser and director, strategic development; Timothy Cronin, adviser and senior vice president of wealth management; as well as senior relationship managers and advisers Damon DeLillo and Michael Rozovics.