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2 wirehouse teams with nearly $400M go indie with Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo’s independent broker-dealer snatched two teams from Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, where they managed $394 million in combined client assets.

For advisor Sue Tompkins, going to another wirehouse was not an option.

“First, it was about going independent and then finding the best fit,” says Tompkins, who left Merrill Lynch for a practice already affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network.

Wells Fargo bank branch 2017 Bloomberg News
Pedestrians pass in front of a Wells Fargo & Co. bank branch in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Wells Fargo & Co. is scheduled to release earning figures on January 13. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Wells Fargo, she says, offered brand recognition but also the flexibility her three-member team desired.

She also praised the firm's "comprehensive" platform. "They’ve exceeded our expectations," Tompkins says.

Provided by spokeswoman from Wells Fargo FiNet

Her team left Merrill Lynch where it managed $250 million in client assets to join the independent firm, Warren Capital Management, in Vero Beach, Florida.

They left the wirehouse looking for ways to customize their practice without bureaucratic prohibitions, says Alexander Batt, who felt that a huge chunk of his time was spent on corporate requirements instead of focusing on the clients. Going independent meant saving time.

Tompkins and Batt have 12 and 19 years of experience, respectively, according to FINRA BrokerCheck Records. They’re joined by advisor Thomas Rollando, an 18-year veteran in the industry.

Merrill Lynch did not respond for comment.

Wells Fargo is the only wirehouse to offer an independent channel. Founded in 2001, FiNet has 1,311 advisors and $114 billion in AUM, according to a spokeswoman.

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In the second of two moves, Wells Fargo’s FiNet picked up a former Morgan Stanley duo that managed $144 million in client assets. They joined an existing independent practice, Hackensack Wealth Management. The team consists of Douglas Ward and James Lugo, according to the independent broker-dealer.

The firm is based in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Ward is a 23-year veteran, working his whole career at Morgan Stanley, according to BrokerCheck Records. Lugo has also worked at the wirehouse for his entire 18-year career in the advisory space.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

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