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Broker Protocol exodus? A $778M team leaves Morgan Stanley

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Morgan Stanley lost yet another team, marking the latest departure following the firm's declaration that it was abandoning the Broker Protocol effective Nov. 3.

John Testa and David Drotar, who collectively managed approximately $778 million, joined Wells Fargo's independent broker-dealer arm in Palo Alto, California, a spokeswoman confirmed.

They moved Nov. 1, after the firm's protocol announcement, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

At least nine other teams left Morgan Stanley the same week, some speeding up their departures before they would lose the protections offered under the protocol, an industry accord that permits brokers to take certain client contact information when switching firms. Those teams oversaw more than $6 billion in client assets.

The wirehouses have lost teams overseeing more than $12 billion in client assets over the past month, according to recent hiring announcements.
November 3

Morgan Stanley and other wirehouses have recently been losing more and more advisors to smaller regional and independent rivals. Those smaller firms have been able to attract talent with promises of less bureaucracy and better corporate cultures.

For its part, Morgan Stanley said it was leaving the accord because other firms were taking advantage of loopholes. The firm's exit has spurred speculation that other wirehouses could soon follow suite, causing the protocol to collapse as a result.

Wells Fargo's latest recruits are industry veterans. Testa and Drotar each have 19 years of industry experience, and had worked at Morgan Stanley for more than a decade.

Wells Fargo's employee broker-dealer arm recently picked up two brokers from HSBC. Miami-based Miguel Roberto Monnichmeyer and Oscar Mauricio Gonzalez managed approximately $400 million in combined client assets while at their former employer, according a Wells Fargo spokeswoman.

They made the move in September, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

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