A drop off in wirehouse recruiting is being felt at the highest levels.
Of the largest advisor moves during the first half of 2018, none went to a wirehouse. Most of these mega brokers ― who managed $18 billion in assets at their previous firms ― left to go independent or to join J.P. Morgan Securities.
Merrill Lynch was among the biggest losses. Six of the ten biggest moves came from Merrill's ranks, where they previously managed $13.2 billion in assets, according to hiring announcements and recruiting data analyzed by On Wall Street.
Others chose to go to J.P. Morgan Securities, a boutique firm that specializes in ultrahigh-net-worth clients, or regional broker-dealers RBC and Janney Montgomery Scott.
Why did they make the move? Some of the advisors cited changing corporate cultures and regulatory shifts. Others felt they were being asked to push products, rather than serve their clients’ best interest.
Departures could pick up later in the year, says recruiter Michael Terrana, who adds that more advisors tend to leave right after Labor Day.
Scroll through to read more about the top ten advisor moves of the year.
$800M Merrill Lynch team goes indie with Focus
Iain Whyte, Simon Holford and Bryan Muth left Merrill Lynch to set up an independent firm with the help of Focus Financial Partners. They managed $800 million at the wirehouse.
“Launching an independent firm has been on our mind for a while,” Iain Whyte, chairman of the newly created Pasadena Private Wealth, said in a statement.
The Pasadena, California-based team will focus on investment portfolios, real estate holdings and business ventures for high-net-worth families, business owners, and executives.
They made the move in May, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.
J.P. Morgan Securities lands $800M advisor from Merrill Lynch
Michael Taggart, who managed $800 million in client assets, left Merrill Lynch to join J.P. Morgan Securities, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Taggart joined the high-end wealth management firm in New York as a financial advisor and managing director, according to the company. He reports to Mike Lee, regional director.
"Being part of a boutique culture within a great global bank is also very attractive. This is an incredible opportunity to deliver the personalized service and tailored capabilities that the firm is known for," he said in a statement.
Taggart made his move in May, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.
Jim Aid, who managed $900 million in client assets at Wells Fargo Advisors, joined RBC in early June.
Aid was the first hire of RBC’s new branch in Nashville, one of two branches the firm opened in a one-month period. Around 77% of his clients are institutional, according to Aid.
“I was really looking for a senior management and a leadership structure that allowed decisions to be made at local managerial levels and then also be able to have the authority to execute on those decisions,” said Aid.
$925M Wells Fargo team departs for RBC
The Bivona Consulting Group moved to RBC from Wells Fargo Advisors, where they managed $925 in assets, according to their new employer.
The team is made up of Joseph Bivona, his son Thomas, and Robert R. Impelluso. Their branch at RBC is located in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
“After careful consideration, we decided to join RBC Wealth Management because of its reputation for integrity, corporate responsibility and overall fiscal stewardship,” advisors Joseph Bivona, his son Thomas Bivona and Robert Impelluso said in a statement.
The team switched firms in April, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.
Jack Hafner, an advisor who was listed in Barron’s last year as managing $1.2 billion in client assets, left Wells Fargo for J.P. Morgan Securities in April.
Hafner, who has past work experience at Lehman Brothers and Barclays, had been with Credit Suisse for eight years, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. The Swiss bank entered into an exclusive recruiting arrangement with Wells Fargo prior to exiting the U.S. wealth management market in 2016.
Hafner highlighted J.P. Morgan Securities' brand and intellectual capital as reasons he made the career switch.
"Over the past two decades in the industry, I have found that a boutique culture like that at JPMS is best for serving my clients. Many high caliber advisors have joined JPMS over the past 18 months, and I am excited to join the ranks," he said in a statement, referring to the firm's aggressive recruiting efforts.