With the wind in its sails, Wachovia is putting the 6,000 advisors in its Private Client Group on notice: You don’t have to jump ship in order to set your own course. In fact, it’s set up new procedures to give FAs the information and support they need to make the move from the Private Client Group over to its independent channel, the Wachovia Securities Financial Network or FiNet.
“The decision recognizes that we’re a firm built around choice and want our financial advisors to have multiple affiliation options that best suit their practices,” explains Jim Hays, head of Wachovia’s Private Client Group.
Industry analysts like Chip Roame, head of Tiburon Strate- gic Advisors in Tiburon, Calif., think the decision is a good one. “This is pretty big,” Roame says. “They really get it, and you have to give them credit.”
What Wachovia “gets,” according to Roame, is building a more advisor-centric business model at a time when the ranks of independent FAs nationwide continue to grow. “The firm recognizes that the advisor has all the power, and it wants them to work with Wachovia.”
“If you want good brokers to work with you, you must give them options,” Roame says. By giving them options — as Raymond James has done for several years — brokerages keep advisors happy, he says. That keeps reps’ high-net-worth clients happy.
For Wachovia, growth is the name of the game. “Last year, 740 advisors joined us in one channel,” says Hays, referring to the Private Client Group. “That’s a Wall Street record.”
Hays says recruiting across Wachovia’s channels continues to be robust this year. “It is up significantly through May,” he explains, “in the high double-digits year over year.” Wachovia hosted a meeting in San Diego in June, for instance, that drew 120 potential recruits. Also in June, four Piper Jaffray advisors moved to Wachovia in Bloomington, Minn., rather than become part of UBS. And in July, a $1.7 million Piper producer in Boise, Idaho, signed on.