Since announcing a deal to sell its U.S. wealth management operations to Stifel, Barclays has lost advisors to rival firms such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.
Now the losses extend to the management ranks, as the regional manager of Barclays' Atlanta office, John Houlihan, has left the firm, according to BrokerCheck.
Houlihan, who could not be reached for comment, joined Barclays from Morgan in 2012. A receptionist at the British firm's Atlanta office said he was no longer with the firm, and could not provide details about where he moved to. A spokeswoman for Barclays declined to comment on his departure.
MANAGING A TRANSITION
Houlihan leaves the firm at a difficult moment. Barclays has lost more than 40 advisors since announcing its deal with St. Louis-based Stifel.
Branch and complex managers can play a key role during transition periods between firms, helping hold an office together.
"You need someone to escort the advisors through the merger," says Tony Sirianni, a former wirehouse branch manager and founder of Sirianni Strategy Group, a consulting firm.
When the acquisition deal was announced, Barclays said it had 180 advisors in 12 offices.
Industry insiders say that a question in the mind of every manager is whether the new firm will keep branch managers on staff post-merger, particularly where overlapping offices might create redundancies.
In Atlanta, Barclays and Stifel's offices are located on the same street, only a few hundred feet from one another. Stifel has only six advisors and one branch manager in Atlanta, with additional ones in surrounding areas, according to its website.
"The only people who can count on being retained after a merger are revenue-generating advisors. Anyone who is a salary plus bonus, their future is always a crap shoot," says Mark Elzweig, head of an eponymous recruiting firm.
It's unclear who is now overseeing the Atlanta office. While Barclays has lost a number of advisors recently, only one has departed from that office so far. Advisor Sylvia Gort joined Morgan Stanley, which has a wealth management office in the same building as Barclays.
Industry insiders say that while a branch manager can play a role in convincing advisors to stick it out through an acquisition or merger, the acquiring firm can play a bigger role in stemming attrition.
"I think it has much more to do with Stifel. They're building a relationship and using these weeks and months to demonstrate their support and commitment [to Barclays advisors]," says Barbara Herman, senior vice president at Diamond Consultants.
"I think in a situation like this it's all about connecting to Stifel's leadership, management and making the fit," she adds.
A 'STRONG' MANAGER
Houlihan is a twenty-year industry veteran, having spent most of his career at Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter, according to FINRA records. He started his career as a financial advisor in Melville before moving up the ranks.
Barclays lured him away from the wirehouse to build out its presence in Atlanta, according to a press release issued after his hiring.
"The Southeastern U.S., where we have offices in Atlanta, Miami and Palm Beach, is an integral part of our wealth management growth plans, so we are delighted to have in John a strong regional manager," Mitch Cox, who was Head of Wealth Management, Americas for Barclays, said in a 2012 press release.
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