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Stifel Nabs FAs from Morgan Stanley, Raymond James, Wells Fargo

May 30, 2018

Stifel Financial has started off the week with a bang, announcing it's picked off financial advisors collectively managing more than $1 billion from three of its rivals.

Several Wells Fargo Advisors have jumped ship to Stifel, including Dan Gruber in Redding, Calif., who previously oversaw $347 million; Michael Heckmann in San Rafael, Calif., who previously managed $307 million at Wells Fargo; Christian Comberg in Charlottesville, Va., who previously oversaw $133 million; Jeff Hughes in Topeka, Kan., who managed $98 million at Wells Fargo; and Asma Mahmood in Modesto, Calif., who oversaw $66 million, according to a press release from Stifel.

Stifel also recruited Michelle Stebbins, an 18-year industry veteran, to serve as branch manager at its Southfield, Mich., private client group office. Stebbins was previously with Wells Fargo Advisors as well, Stifel says in its press release.

Wells Fargo has had somewhat of an advisor exodus following the 2016 revelations that employees at the company’s retail banking unit had opened millions of accounts without client authorization. And this year, Wells Fargo’s wealth management units have also attracted direct regulator scrutiny. In addition to Stifel, Wells Fargo has been losing representatives to Raymond James, Janney Montgomery Scott, UBS, RBC Wealth Management and other brokerages.

In Redding, meanwhile, Stifel also nabbed Joe Gruber, who previously oversaw $42 million at Raymond James, according to a press release from Stifel. And Robert Fenton, who also oversaw $42 million at Raymond James, has joined Stifel’s Traverse City, Mich., office, according to Stifel.

Finally, Stifel has picked up Cynthia Vogel for its Savannah, Ga., office, according to the press release. Vogel previously oversaw $82 million at Morgan Stanley, Stifel says.

“With many of the uncertainties of [Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule] behind us, we have re-engaged with both wirehouse and regional advisors looking for a culture that represents their values to serve their clients,” John Pierce, head of advisor recruitment at Stifel, says in the press release. The DOL’s rule, which purported to require retirement account advisors to put clients’ interests first and went into partial effect last summer, was vacated in March by an appeals court and the DOL has given up enforcing it.

Pierce also had something to say about the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, the industry accord that lets departing advisors take some client data with them without threat of a lawsuit. Morgan Stanley pulled out of the agreement in November, closely followed by UBS.

“We believe the financial advisor owns the client relationship, and regardless of protocol or non-protocol, the diverse tapestry of firms and people joining us provides clear evidence that Stifel is becoming the firm of choice for entrepreneurial advisors.”

By Alex Padalka