Just as three wirehouses are pulling back from recruiting, Raymond James is announcing more hires.

The firm recruited two wirehouse teams in recent weeks that managed approximately $370 million in combined client assets, a spokeswoman said.

The announcement comes the same week that Morgan Stanley told managers it will significantly reduce recruiting efforts, mirroring similar moves by Merrill Lynch and UBS. In recent years, transition deals at the largest firms had ballooned in size, topping 300% of 12-month trailing production for some advisers. That proved lucrative for many brokers, but costly for the wirehouses.

With three of the big firms shifting gears, regional brokerages and firms that assist breakaways face less competition when recruiting advisers.

For its part, Raymond James has been on a long-running recruiting push, attempting to grow its adviser force beyond its traditional base in the Southeast. The St. Petersburg, Florida-based now has more than 7,200 independent and employee financial advisers as well as total client assets of $643 billion. The firm now eclipses UBS in headcount. The Swiss firm has about 7,000 advisers, according to its most recent earnings report.

Raymond James' latest hire, Steven Friedman, center, is an industry veteran, having started his career as a trainee with Dean Witter in 1967. His son, Jeremy, left, and Renee Johnson also moved with him to the regional firm.

50 YEARS IN THE BIZ

Among Raymond James' latest hires, ex-Merrill Lynch brokers Gary Cook and Kristina Daniel joined the regional firm's branch in Clinton Township, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Lewis Walterhouse is the branch manager for that office.

Cook and Daniel managed $240 million while at Merrill, according to Raymond James. Also moving with them is Beth Decker, senior registered client service associate.

"We wanted a firm that was first and foremost a wealth management firm, where its primary business was its private client group," Cook said in a statement. "And we wanted the flexibility to be able to address and provide solutions for our clients that would work best for their interests, not that of the firm."

Slideshow
Advisers on the move: Merrill Lynch brokers with over $1.8B jump ship
Raymond James, RBC and Ameriprise were among the industry players to lure away talent from Merrill Lynch.

Cook had been a Merrill Lynch adviser since starting his career at the wirehouse in 1995. Daniel got a job working in the mailroom at Merrill in 1998, and worked her way up the ranks.

A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman was not available for immediate comment.

Raymond James’ other new hires, Steven Friedman and his son Jeremy, joined the firm's office last month in Omaha, Nebraska. They report to Tim Ziola, branch manager.

The Friedmans were previously with Wells Fargo, where they oversaw about $130 million in client assets and generated more than $1 million in annual revenue. Renee Johnson, senior client service associate, also moved with them.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman was not available for immediate comment.

The team considered several options, but a visit to Raymond James' home office sealed the deal, according to Jeremy Friedman, who had been with Wells Fargo since 2010. Prior to becoming an adviser, Friedman worked in information technology.

His father has been in the business since serving as an intern for Dean Witter in 1967, according to Raymond James.

"I span several generations of clients and firms, and have always believed that if we do well for our clients we will do well for ourselves," Steve Friedman said in a statement.

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