Wells Lures 3-Mln UBS Advisor in Connecticut

6 Feb    Investing News

A UBS Wealth Management broker in Connecticut who produced more than $3 million took his solo practice to Wells Fargo Advisors three weeks ago, within days of a similar journey on the West Coast by a two-person $5-million team. 

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Vincent Fiorentino moved from a UBS branch in Stamford to a small Wells Advisors office in Old Greenwich in mid-January, a Wells spokeswoman confirmed, a week before the San Francisco-based team of Joseph Seidler and Gary Cattich made the UBS-to-Wells transit.

Wells has been offering upper-echelon candidates some of the fattest recruiting deals in the retail brokerage industry, hoping to rebuild a sales force that has declined by more than 1,500 since late 2016, when its sister bank’s fake account scandal was disclosed. Top brokers can receive as much as 325% of their previous year’s production in front- and back-end forgivable loan deals, according to recruiters.

“We are proud that so many outstanding financial advisors are choosing to join,” said Shea Leordeanu, the Wells Fargo Advisors spokeswoman.

Fiorentino, whose LinkedIn profile highlights his membership in top Smith Barney and UBS recognition clubs since 2000, did not return calls for comment. “Forbes” ranked him in the top half of its list of best Connecticut managers in January.

The broker, who began his career with Lehman Brothers in 1986, markets his expertise in working with divorced women, was featured at a UBS press conference about its 2018 study on high-net-worth women investors.

A UBS spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

UBS has in recent months revved up recruiting of U.S. brokers following a three-year retrenchment in which it focused on retention incentives rather than more expensive hiring of experienced advisors. Its advisor force still declined by about 270 to 6,049 in the last 12 months, according to late January internal rankings cited by UBS brokers.

Executives of the Swiss bank in January reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S. wealth business, boasting that the average advisor produces an industry-leading $1.4 million of fees and commissions annually. 

Wells Fargo Advisors lost a net 456 brokers in 2019, despite its recruiting push. It ended the year with 13,512 advisors across its brokerage businesses.

Attrition was elevated last year because of high numbers of retiring advisors, Leordeanu said after Wells announced its fourth-quarter earnings. New brokers who joined in 2019 had average annual production of $719,000, up from $565,000 in 2018, she said.

Fiorentino, who was the third broker in two years to join Wells Fargo’s Old Greenwich branch from UBS in Stamford, arrived two days after the earnings report.

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