January 21, 2014

Breakaway Brokers Move to Focus, Raymond James, Others

In addition to ex-wirehouse advisors, independent broker-dealers, RIAs and wealth management firms are attracting a variety of advisors

Focus Financial said Monday that one of its partner firms had recruited a team from Morgan Stanley with about $250 million in client assets.

Christopher Englebert and Daniel Reitz joined Milford, Conn.-based Beirne Wealth Consulting but will work out of an office in Allentown, Pa. Beirne now has about $2 billion in client assets, double the amount it had before it worked with a Focus-led program that helps wirehouse teams make successful transitions into independent firms.

 “We are proud to have Chris, Dan and their team join the firm,” said John Beirne, founding partner of Beirne. “Through the ongoing support and counsel of Focus, we have been able to expand our presence on the Eastern seaboard and look forward to continue adding national talent in the years ahead.”

Last week, Focus Financial Partners said its partner firm Atlas Private Wealth Management of Williamstown, Mass., added two advisors in Albany, N.Y., who formerly worked for their own business, Albany Financial Partners. By adding the two reps, Michael Hickey, CFP, and Donald Carman, CPA, Atlas now has about $1 billion in client assets under management.

“Mike and Don share our deep commitment to clients,” said Atlas President & CEO Greg Britton, in a statement. “Their experience will allow us to expand our offering and serve more individuals, families and small businesses across the country. We remain committed to growing our business and look forward to attracting great clients and advisors to Atlas.”

Focus Financial Partners, a partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms, has roughly $70 billion in total client assets and 27 partners.

“The symbiotic relationship between Mike, Don and Atlas highlights the power of the strategic partnerships that Focus facilitates,” said Rajini Kodialam, a managing director of Focus, in a statement. “

This Focus news comes on the heels of last week's announcement that Raymond James (RJF) recently recruited a team of four advisors from Morgan Stanley (MS) to its independent advisor channel, while independent wealth management firms also attracted wirehouse advisors, as well as independent reps.

S. Benjamin Weiner, CFP; Michael Hlavek, CFP; Duke Marsh; and Daniel Iosue moved to Raymond James. The team operates as the Winter Park Wealth Group, an independent firm, in Winter Park, Fla.

“We are delighted to welcome yet another accomplished team of advisors to Raymond James,” said Jodi Perry, Southeast regional manager of Raymond James Financial Services (RJFS), the firm’s independent broker-dealer, in a press release.

“Ben and his partners have demonstrated a history of providing excellent client service, consistent with the culture and values at Raymond James,” Perry noted. “Their decision to affiliate with us reflects their appreciation for our firm’s client-first focus, financial strength and extensive support and resources.”

At Morgan Stanley, the team managed more than $550 million in client assets and had annual fees and commissions of more than $2.3 million.

“I grew up in this business alongside my father, for whom I have the greatest respect,” said Weiner, in a statement. “He always reminded me, and now I remind myself and my partners, that we must earn our clients’ trust and confidence every day. We wanted to join a firm where that would be easy …”

Weiner became an advisor in 1986 at Shearson Lehman/American Express, while Hlavek began his career as an advisor on Weiner’s team at Smith Barney in 2001.

Marsh started his advisor career in 1977 with Merrill Lynch, and Iosue joined Morgan Stanley in 2011.

Other Recruits

Highline Wealth Management, an RIA with $1.33 billion in assets, said on Wednesday that two advisors had joined the firm — one from a wirehouse and one from another RIA. Each of the advisors has clients who have on average $2 million in assets under management.

Aviva Pinto joined Highline in New York from OpenArc. He has over 25 years of experience as a financial advisor. Michael Moriarty, CFP, has been in the business for more than 20 years and moved to Highline from Morgan Stanley in Rockville, Md.

"Highline is a firm for advisors who value the leverage created by corporate resources and who very simply put client service above anything else," said CEO Neal Simon in a press release.

"This is one firm, delivering a consistent client experience,” Simon explained. “If I'm on a plane sitting next to a Highline client, I want to know exactly what that actually means."

In addition to adding advisors like Pinto and Moriarty through “tuck-in” deals, Highline aims to expand by attracting two to three regional advisor firms with $100 million or more in assets in the Northeast.

"Having spent my career in the wirehouse world, this was a big move for me," Moriarty said in a statement. "At first, my clients did not understand what becoming an RIA entails. But once it was explained that we were fee-only and could provide truly independent advice, they were extremely happy."

Convergent Wealth Advisors said that Nicole Cost has joined the firm in New York, where she will handle client service, business development and custodial relationships. Prior to joining Convergent, Cost was at Evercore Wealth Management, where she managed several hundred million dollars in client assets for approximately 62 high-net-worth relationships.

“There is a huge need for comprehensive wealth planning — too few companies really focus on it — and it’s exciting to combine my experience with a nationally recognized firm like Convergent,” Cost said in a statement.

Convergent  has about $11 billion in assets. It is owned by City National Bank.

“This year, the New York market is going to be a major strategic focus for Convergent,” explained Convergent President & COO Douglas Wolford in a press release. “We’re delighted that Nicole will serve as the nucleus of a major New York presence for us.”

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Check out Did CFP Board Shorten Exams to Lure Certificants? on ThinkAdvisor.

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