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Morgan Stanley Breakaway: The Reasons I Left for a Big Independent

By Miriam Rozen October 2, 2018

Last month Thomas O’Neill, a Mount Laurel, N.J. financial advisor, moved his more than $200 million AUM team, including his son, Thomas Jr., and daughter, Jessica, from Morgan Stanley to Raymond James. Describing the steps necessary when contemplating such a change, the senior O’Neill offers the guidance most parents stress to their children: Do your homework.

In a Q&A with FA-IQ, O’Neill – a 35-year industry veteran who was at Morgan Stanley for nearly a decade and has also worked for UBS and Merrill Lynch – addresses some of the reasons for (and challenges and advantages of) his team seeking and selecting a new professional home.

FA-IQ: What prompted you to think about making a move?

O’Neill: After Jessie and Tommy joined my team, I wanted to make sure the environment was right for us as a team and then eventually for Jessie and Tommy for the rest of their careers. The culture and reputation of Raymond James appealed to us.

FA-IQ: How many other broker/dealers did you consider before choosing Raymond James?

O’Neill: We looked at many options and did our due diligence.

FA-IQ: What were the top three reasons you chose Raymond James?

O’Neill: Firm culture. Freedom to run our practice to best meet our clients’ needs. Wealth management is the main focus of the firm.

FA-IQ: What was the most difficult part of executing the move?

O’Neill: As with any significant move of a business, the forms and paperwork.

FA-IQ: How have clients responded?

O’Neill: Very positively. Our clients trust us to make good decisions for both them as clients and us as advisors.

Thomas ONeill

FA-IQ: What unexpected benefits have you enjoyed with the move?

O’Neill: We knew we liked the culture at Raymond James, and we’re even more impressed with the positive atmosphere and support we’ve experienced so far at the firm.

FA-IQ: What would you recommend as the first steps for other advisor teams contemplating a move similar to yours?

O’Neill: Look at all options and do your homework.

* This interview is part of an occasional series highlighting advisors who have broken away from their previous firms.