UBS Mega-Team in L.A. Joins RBC Wealth

6 Dec    Investing News

(Story updated throughout with comments from RBC and the new brokers.)

One of UBS Wealth Management’s biggest-producing teams in southern California left on Wednesday morning to join RBC Wealth Management.

Roger W. Stephens and Dan Rothenberg, who had been with UBS for seven years following a stint at Morgan Stanley, generated fees and commissions of about $12.5 million in the last 12 months on about $7.5 billion of customer assets, said two people familiar with their book. RBC confirmed the asset estimate in a press release about the new team, which it said will open the firm’s first branch in downtown Los Angeles.

Stephens and Rothenberg’s clients include corporate retirement plan sponsors, nonprofit organizations and wealthy individuals, according to Stephens’ UBS web biography. The sources said that despite their large book, the advisors chose not to affiliate with UBS’s private wealth management division for very wealthy clients.

“We are excited to come to a firm that has a smaller, more focused group of people, where we feel we can really make a difference,” Rothenberg, who like his partner was a managing director at UBS, said in a prepared statement.

UBS Wealth executives in the U.S. said recently that they have selectively revved up recruiting to bolster a slimmed-down force that, according to insiders, had fallen to about 6,110 U.S. advisers as of September 30. Throughout the Americas, the brokerage force had declined by more than 280 over the previous 12 months, UBS said in its third-quarter earnings statements.

The Stephens team’s departure widens a hole at UBS’s downtown Los Angeles office on South Flower Street, which in September lost a four-advisor team producing around $11 million to First Republic Bank.

For RBC Wealth-USA, which is owned by Royal Bank of Canada and in 2015 bought the private-bank-oriented Los Angeles-based City National Bank, the hires continue a steady influx of wirehouse brokers in southern California. In November 2017, RBC recruited a Merrill Lynch team in Palos Verdes managing more than $600 million and one year earlier brought in three Morgan Stanley advisors in Beverly Hills who had been producing $2.2 million.

RBC Wealth employs 111 advisors in its southern California complex’s ten branches, which are overseen by complex director Mike Melton. Over the past two years, the Royal Bank of Canada unit has recruited 35 advisors through California, and recently opened a branch in Marin County near San Francisco.

Stephens and Rothenberg, who are temporarily working from an RBC branch in Pasadena pending construction of the permanent downtown L.A. branch, joined with four client service, administrative and wealth strategy associates.

Stephens, who began his career as a retirement plan consultant after attending the University of California at Berkeley, registered as a securities broker in late 1991, affiliating with independent broker-dealer Associated Securities Corp.  He joined UBS in November 2010 after four-and-a-half years at Morgan Stanley, following an earlier stint with UBS from 2000 through 2006, according to his BrokerCheck history.

Rothenberg began his brokerage career with Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles in mid-2006, and has worked with Stephens since “shortly after graduating from Harvard University in 2004,” according to his UBS biography.

When they joined UBS Wealth ten years ago, it said in a news release that they and a third partner, Theodore Fisher, had produced $5.2 million the previous year at Morgan Stanley on $2.1 billion of client assets. Fisher was discharged by UBS in 2012, and is currently registered with J.P. Morgan Securities, according to his BrokerCheck history.

Randy Grossblatt, a recruiter and former regional director and branch manager at UBS, worked on Stephens and Rothenberg’s transfer, along with his partner Mark Albers.

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