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Morgan Stanley to Fire More Advisors Who Underperformed

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Three months after firing about 300 advisors, Morgan Stanley is poised to get rid of more lower-producing FAs, a spokesperson said Thursday.

“We may go below the previously stated range of 17,500-18,500 as we continue to prune underperformers, but we're not putting a number on it right now,” the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney spokesperson explained in a statement.

The plan for additional layoffs was described by Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat at an investment conference on Tuesday, according to Morgan Stanley.

In early March, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney moved to lay off between 200-300 lower-level advisors. At the time, the job cuts were reported to generally affect lower-producing advisor trainees with three years or less of experience and $25,000 yearly fees and commissions, and those with five years or less of experience and $75,000 a year in production.

As part of its efforts to help advisors boost results, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney said two weeks ago that it would allow about 600 advisors to fully access LinkedIn and partially access Twitter starting in late June. Over the next six months, it plans for its entire FA force of about 17,800 financial advisors to have access to these social-media outlets as a way to stay in touch with exisiting clients and work with prospective clients. 

The pilot advisor group includes members of the firm’s Chairman’s Club and other advisors who have been working with the firm for the past year on social networking.

As of March 31, Morgan Stanley said total client assets were $1.7 trillion. Client assets in fee-based accounts were $501 billion, representing 29% of total client assets. Net new assets for the quarter were $11.4 billion, and net new flows in fee-based accounts were $17.8 billion. 

The 17,800 global representatives at quarter-end achieved average annualized revenue per global representative of $767,000 and total client assets per global representative of $97 million.

The current Morgan Stanley Smith Barney FA headcount was down about 2%, or by 340 reps, from last year and fell roughly 1%, or by 243 reps, from the prior quarter.

At nearly, 15,700, the number of financial advisors at Merrill Lynch rose by 184 FAs in the early part of 2011 from 15,511 in Q4 2010 and 15,178 a year ago.

Merrill financial-advisor yearly production, or fees and commissions, rose to $931,000 per advisor in the first quarter from $913,000 in the previous period. Assets under management (AUM) at Merrill grew to more than $1.554 trillion, or $99 million in average assets per rep, versus $98 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.


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