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Ahead of Broker Protocol exit, $210M Morgan Stanley team jumps to Baird

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Another day, another breakaway from the wirehouses.

Baird, an employee-owned broker-dealer, has recruited the Jester Group, which oversaw $210 million in client assets at Morgan Stanley, according to the regional firm.

The move was completed on Oct. 27, the same day that Morgan Stanley said it would exit the Broker Protocol by week's end. The accord permits advisors moving between protocol firms to take basic client contact information with them, and cut back on lawsuits firms filed to block brokers from switching employers.

In making the move, the Jester Group is also opening a new Baird office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, its fifth in the state.

Founder C. Gene Jester had been at Morgan Stanley for eight years prior to joining Baird, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. Jester’s career spans 30 years and several wealth management firms, but he wasn’t always an advisor: The industry veteran started out as a parish minister and has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to Baird.

Cort Bennett, another advisor with the Jester Group, also brings an unconventional background with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an MBA from Wake Forest.

Jester’s son David is an associate with the Jester Group. The team is supported by client specialists Emma Jackson and Tracie Legg.

Baird has poached a number of advisors from wirehouses this year. In September the firm lured away two teams worth $325 million from Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley. The broker-dealer’s 860 advisors oversee $126 billion worth of assets, according to the company.

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