Wirehouse Carousel Twirls, UBS Hires 2-Mln Morgan Stanley Broker

25 Feb    Investing News

On a day when advisors were trying to assuage clients about over-reacting to Monday’s precipitous stock market decline, Matt Simi and several other wirehouse advisors were asking their former customers to follow them to new firms.

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Simi joined UBS Wealth Management USA in San Francisco on Friday from Morgan Stanley, where he generated $1.97 million in fees and commissions on a book of $424 million in client assets, according to a UBS spokesman.

Simi, who was with Morgan Stanley for almost half of his 28-year brokerage career and also worked at Hambrecht & Quist and Bear, Stearns for a total of 10 years, declined to comment on the reasons for his move.

UBS, like Morgan Stanley, withdrew two years ago from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting as both firms sought to cut hiring budgets while making it harder for veterans to leave. The pullback at UBS has been accompanied by a wave of departures that insiders say has whittled its U.S. brokerage force to just over 6,000.

UBS executives and managers in recent months have recommitted themselves to support the U.S. wealth business, even as its parent bank announced a new CEO last week with little wealth management experience. UBS also hired Iqbal Khan from Credit Suisse late last year to colead wealth management with Americas boss Tom Naratil, and they have shaken up the field management landscape.

UBS last month hired a team of career Merrill Lynch advisors in Charlotte, North Carolina, who were producing about $16.7 million in revenue. In northern California, UBS market executive Erin Borger, in recent months has recruited 20 FAs producing about $24 million in trailing-12-month revenue on $4 billion of assets, according to the firm spokesman and to internal memos. They did not say how many brokers may have left the region.

Morgan Stanley also has revved up recruiting bonuses in recent months and named veteran complex manager Ben Firestein to a new position as head of national recruiting. Simi’s Friday departure occurred the same day that Morgan Stanley teams in New York and suburban Philadelphia left for a competitor.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the departure of Simi, who joined UBS with a client associate.

The exits followed Morgan Stanley’s Thursday announcement that it will buy discount broker E*Trade Financial in a $13-billion all-stock deal. That, of course, did not precipitate the long-planned broker moves, but Monday’s market collapse likely makes their process of contacting former clients and defending against client retention offers from former colleagues even more challenging, headhunters said.

U.S. stock market indexes were off about 3% in late afternoon trading on Monday.

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