Smith Barney insists it retained more than 80 percent of Legg Mason reps acquired last year through Citigroup’s purchase of Legg Mason’s retail operations. This year, though, the brokerage has been losing a few more brokers than it’s used to — apparently due to the highly competitive recruiting scene.

“Our attrition is above the normal rate in 2006,” says Alex Samuelson, a spokesman for the Citibank-owned brokerage group. “This is because of market conditions, namely the unprecedented recruiting packages being offered.”

Because of enticing offers from wirehouse and other rivals, the number of advisors has declined by 237 from earlier this year. This fall comes after the firm was lauded for successfully retaining the bulk of Legg-Mason advisors it picked up last year.

Of the 1,300 Legg Mason advisors acquired through the deal (which closed in December 2005), some 82 percent have stayed on, according to Samuelson. “That’s one of the best [records] from a recent acquisition” in the industry, he explains.