Steward Partners recruited a former Wells Fargo team that managed $170 million in client assets to its burgeoning advisor ranks, the firm said.

The addition of the Raffer Investment Group marks the latest hire for the Raymond James affiliated independent firm, which has been recruiting aggressively from wirehouses over the last several months.

The team is comprised of Alan Raffer and his son Jeremy, and CFP Sherry Birnbaum. They joined Steward Partners’ recently opened office in Paramus, New Jersey.

The team weighed different options when leaving Wells Fargo, but opted to join an independent firm because they see the channel as having less bureaucracy than the wirehouses.

“Independence essentially allows us to sit down with our clients and in a one-on-one basis decide what makes the best sense for both of us,” the younger Raffer says. “There’s a bit less red tape, which allows us and our clients to be more in touch with one another and a little bit more flexible and reactive to the specificity of what they’re looking for.”

The Raffer Investment Group joined Steward Partners from Wells Fargo. Jeremy (left) and Alan Raffer (right) are pictured with Sherry Birnbaum.
The Raffer Investment Group joined Steward Partners from Wells Fargo. Jeremy (left) and Alan Raffer (right) are pictured with Sherry Birnbaum. Steward Partners


Moving to an independent firm was also attractive to the team for what Raffer says is the greater flexibility to custom-design solutions for clients. The team members also cited the firm's platform and backing by Raymond James.

“Raymond James and Steward Partners have managed to maintain a feeling of connection with us as partners and therefor it’s easier for us to maintain that connection with our clients,” Birnbaum says. “It’s a much warmer, welcoming environment.”

Alan Raffer has more than 40 years of experience in the wealth management industry, having spent that time at Wells Fargo and its predecessor firms, Steward Partners says. His son Jeremy joined his father about 10 years ago and they formed the Raffer Investment Group. Birnbaum became a part of the team a year ago. She was with Wells Fargo for 15 years. Birnbaum started her career in 1979 and has past work experience at firms such as Alex. Brown and Smith Barney, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

Wells Fargo declined to comment on their departure.

Steward Partners has been on a recruiting tear in recent months, pulling in talent from rivals including Morgan Stanley, Janney and Citigroup. The Washington, D.C.-based firm also opened new offices last year, including locations such as Boston. Steward Partners, founded in 2013, plans to continue this push as well as build out its leadership team in 2018, CEO Jim Gold says.

“We have a very robust pipeline of candidates; we have a significant number of commitments that are really stretched out from last week through the second quarter of this year,” Gold notes. “The interest level continues to be very high.”

Amanda Schiavo

Amanda Schiavo is an associate editor for Financial Planning. Follow her on Twitter at @SchiavoAmanda.