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$350M team leaves RBC for Steward Partners

Two veteran advisers who oversaw $350 million in client assets have left RBC to join Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James, a spokesman said.

Chris Detmer and Aaron Brachman say that they made the move in part to find a firm that more closely resembled that of Ferris, Baker Watts, the regional brokerage firm where the two advisers worked prior to its acquisition by RBC in 2008.

"I yearned for that original culture that I grew up in, which was employee-owned, independent in thought and we had a lot of say in things like technology," Detmer, a 29-year industry veteran, says. "I wanted to return to those roots, and Aaron felt the same way. And Steward Partners was a good fit for us because it felt familiar."

The advisers, who have been partners for 16 years, generated $2.3 million in annual revenue while at RBC, according to Steward Partners. Detmer and Brachman operate from the firm's headquarters in Washington.

It was not a decision they made lightly; Brachman says they deliberated for a long time before deciding to leave. The advisers first visited Raymond James' headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla., nearly seven years ago.

Detmer says that he and Brachman were not unhappy with RBC, but they did feel compelled to understand all the options available to them and their clients.

"We owed it to our clients to constantly monitor the players of the industry," Detmer says.

They visited Raymond James' offices again as part of the recruiting process at Steward Partners. Brachman says they came away impressed with the firm's technology and platform.

"We want to make sure that our clients are getting the best that they can from us," he says.
A spokeswoman for RBC declined to comment on the departures.

'Steady stream' of recruits

Steward Partners was founded by former wirehouse managers in 2013 and has grown to 20 teams operating from five offices.

Since the start of this year, the firm has hired several large wirehouse teams and advisers. In March, an ex-Morgan Stanley adviser who oversaw more than $570 million joined the firm in New York, and an ex-Wells Fargo team generating $1.3 million in annual revenue joined Steward's office in Washington.

Earlier this month, Steward Partners said it enticed a UBS adviser who had nearly 40 years of industry experience and managed about $100 million in client assets. Tom W. O'Bryon II joined the firm in Bethesda, Md.

Like Detmer and Brachman, some of these recruits are wirehouse veterans who started their careers at smaller regional firms that were gobbled up in a series of mergers and acquisitions. O'Bryon, for example, had previously worked at Ferris Baker Watts and Legg Mason.

Divisional President Jeff Gonyo says that the combination of Steward Partners' culture and Raymond James' platform creates a kind of "cutting-edge nostalgia."

"I think you're going to see a steady stream of people who are like Chris and Aaron," he says of the firm's incoming recruits.

Gonyo, who previously served as a Morgan Stanley branch manager, says that Steward Partners expects more advisers to join later this year, and that the firm will be opening new locations as well. The Washington and Bethesda offices are already filling up.

"When we built [those two] offices, which are less than a year old, we anticipated it would take about three years to fill these locations,” Gonyo says. “I'd say they'll be filled within 10 months. The available seats are shrinking in these markets."

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