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Stifel Increases Advisor Count

By Mrinalini Krishna February 4, 2019

After a self-imposed slowdown on hiring due to the Department of Labor’s failed fiduciary rule in 2017 and early 2018, Stifel Financial saw its advisor ranks grow by 57, or 2.5%, to 2,301 at the end of 2018 compared to the year prior, according to its latest earnings release. This number includes 101 independent contractors.

For the fourth quarter, the St. Louis-based firm saw a net addition of three advisors. Stifel chairman and CEO Ronald Kruszewski said in the Friday earnings call with analysts that recruitment is “typically low” in December, though he expects recruitment to be strong in 2019.

“We continue to see positive momentum in our recruiting effort. Growth for the actual additions remains strong in our backlog of recruits. We may go up. Barring a significant change in the market environment, we are expecting strong recruiting here in 2019,” Kruszewski said.

This is the first time in three years Stifel has ended the year with net new advisor additions. In 2015, the advisor headcount stood at 2,891 which was eventually adjusted in the company’s financial filings to 2,300 due to the sale of the Sterne Agee broker-dealer business in 2016. Since then, Stifel's advisor count at the end of the year has been lower than the previous year — by 20 in 2016 and 38 in 2017.

Two weeks ago, Stifel’s head of advisor recruitment John Pierce said the company was coming off a “record recruiting year in 2018” in terms of client assets and was off to a strong start in 2019.

In an interview with FA-IQ in December, Pierce said the company had seen an uptick in advisor retirements over the past two years, even though the company managed to retain most of the client assets. Pierce said retirements went up because of DOL rule uncertainty and a minimum production standard hike implemented by Stifel starting 2018.

John Pierce

Stifel’s global wealth management brokerage revenues for 2018 were $638.17 million — a 3.5% decline compared to the year prior. For Q4 2018, global wealth brokerage revenue was down 3.7% to $157 million compared to the same quarter in 2017 and 0.9% lower than the third quarter of 2018.