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Steward Partners brings in advisors with $635M from Morgan, Wells

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Steward Partners recruited two advisors managing approximately $635 million in combined client assets from Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, marking the latest addition for the fast-growing independent firm.

Steward Partners, a Raymond James affiliate, has picked up 26 advisors so far this year and expects to bolster their ranks in the coming months.

The latest hires are former Wells Fargo advisor Brad Coyle in McLean, Virginia, and ex-Morgan Stanley advisor Ken Neuman in Morristown, New Jersey.

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Independent and regional firms have been aggressive recruiters in recent years as three of the wirehouses have cut back on hiring efforts. Last year, Morgan Stanley and UBS left the Broker Protocol, an industrywide accord permitting advisors switching firms to take basic client contact information with them.

So far this year, more than 125 advisors overseeing over $21 billion have moved out of the employee to the independent channel, according to company announcements and BrokerCheck records analyzed by Financial Planning. Nearly 300 advisors overseeing about $30 billion moved to regional brokerages.

Like other firms, Steward Partners has benefited from a wave of advisors exiting the wirehouses complaining of rampant bureaucracy and little flexibility.

“Every firm has certain objectives. They want to do things to be profitable. As a shareholder, I appreciate it. But I didn’t want to,say, open credit card lines for people. I want to do it only because it’s something the client needs,” Neuman says.

The wirehouse model, Neuman says, is “broken.”

Coyle says he was drawn to Steward Partners in part because it reminded him of A.G. Edwards, the regional brokerage firm he worked at for a dozen years prior to its eventual absorption by Wells Fargo in 2008. The firm was typified by a client-first culture and competency, he says.

“If you called the home office with a question, the person you got either knew the answer or would help you quickly get to the person who does,” Coyle recalls.

Although he didn’t consider moving to another wirehouse, he did not immediately jump to Steward Partners when he first learned of the firm about five years ago, Coyle says. He wanted to see how it performed first.

“This is the best of both worlds, it has the appeal of an RIA, but it has the backing of a billion-dollar outfit,” Coyle says, referring to affiliate Raymond James.

Also moving with Coyle are Ali Allen, a senior registered client associate, and his son, Brad Coyle Jr., registered client associate. Coyle’s last career move was 22 years ago.

Neuman has made just one career change, moving from Merrill Lynch to Morgan Stanley in 2006. Before settling on Steward Partners, he spent two years considering his options. He looked into joining boutique firms like J.P. Morgan Securities and launching his own RIA. But other firms didn’t quite appeal to him, and he had no desire to operate a business.

“I wanted to focus on growing a practice and helping people,” he says.

Steward Partners’ structure and philosophy fit that bill, he says.

“There’s less bureaucracy, and I have a voice that can and will be heard,” says Neuman. Also moving with him is Linda Rozycki, his assistant.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo declined to comment on Coyle’s departure. A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley was not available for immediate comment.

Steward Partners, founded in late 2013 and now comprising approximately 100 advisors, is considering expanding its real estate to accommodate its growing ranks. The firm’s Morristown office opened six months ago and has five advisors, with the addition of Neuman. Now that space may be too small, according to Divisional President Tim Sheridan.

“We’re looking to move to a bigger space that would hold 13 to 15 advisors,” says Sheridan, who himself joined the firm from Wells Fargo in July in order to help with recruiting efforts.

The firm is also in plans to open a new office space in McClean in early 2019, executives say.

For Coyle, it’ll be the second time he is a founding member of a new office in McClean. He did the same under the A.G. Edwards banner almost twenty years ago.

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