Jim Hays, president of Wachovia Securities Private Client Group, describes what growth the division is aiming for this year.
Wachovia's Private Client Advisors
Private Client Group: 5,958
In-Bank Channel: 1,360
Independent Channel: 508
Latin America: 208
How have you been growing the FA force and its results?
We don't have December '06 data yet; but as of November '06, there were a total of 8,103 financial advisors, which compares with 8,003 at the end of November '05.
In 2006, as a firm, we focused more on organic growth and quality growth over that of quantity growth. Over the course of this period, with a modest increase in the number of FAs across the firm, client assets grew from $687 billion to $756 billion, and average revenue per FA is up dramatically to more than $600,000.
As you know, Wachovia Securities is comprised of three main business channels, and we recruited over 300 experienced advisors just in our PCG channel in 2006. Our retention has never been better and is a record for Wall Street. We hire about 300 trainees per year.
What is the plan for '07?
We plan to grow our net PCG headcount by 200 advisors year over year. Our target is $500,000-plus, and we are interested in recruiting those financial advisors who want to grow their fee-based business.
We have a centralized recruiting effort headed by Chip Walker, our director of FA integration. Our recruiting structure has been extremely successful, and we are not anticipating making any changes in 2007.
Can you speak about specific productivity achievements in 2006?
Our advisor productivity grew to over $600,000 per advisor and our fee-based business was a primary driver of this, growing at over 20 percent, twice the rate of the industry.
[Margins have improved because of] the productivity growth of advisors and growth in our fee-based and FDIC business.
How does Wachovia continue to differentiate itself?
First, we are the most advisor-centric firm in the industry. We continue to draw a record number of financial advisors who are clearly attracted to our multi-business channel structure, which allows FAs to service clients in the way that suits them best. The firm is bottoms-up rather than top-down. Secondly, our culture is second to none, which is a testament to why our retention is so high.