Many brokers continued to move between the wirehouses in the late summer and early fall. But a good number are also going independent and signing on with national firms that are on a strong growth trajectory, as indicated by the results of their second- and third-quarter recruiting drives. 

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch recruited two advisors from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and one from Wells Fargo in early September. Together, the three advisors oversee close to $340 million in client assets and more than $1.5 million in yearly fees and commissions.

Jonathan Brecht joined the company from Morgan Stanley and is based in Rockefeller Center in New York. He oversees nearly $130 million in assets. Jeff Chanin also moved to Merrill from MSSB and is based in Coral Springs, Fla., where he has roughly $100 million in assets and yearly fees and commissions of about $972,000.

Coming to Merrill from Wells Fargo was David Francis, who is based in Mequon, Wis. The advisor oversees roughly $110 million and has yearly production of close to $490,000.

Breakaway Brokers

These recruiting success stories came about one week after news that four Bank of America-Merrill Lynch teams had switched to the independent-advisor model by joining Dynasty Financial Partners and HighTower Advisors.

Chicago-based HighTower said that two Merrill teams joined its network, which is owned by about 75 advisors. Coming on board in Las Vegas are Anderson & Delutri and the MNA Group. They are the ninth and 10th teams in 2012 to join HighTower, which includes some 35 teams with about $20 billion in assets.

“These are two of the best advisor teams in this region, who both came to the same conclusion that HighTower is the future of the financial services industry, and they would be able to serve their clients as true fiduciaries by joining our partnership,” said Mike Papedis, executive vice president of business development at HighTower, in a press release. 

The principals of Anderson & Delutri—Hugh Anderson and Sheila Delutri—each spent more than 30 years at Merrill Lynch. They manage combined assets of $450 million.

The principals of MNA Group—Mike PeQueen, CFA, CFP; Ned Evans, CRPC; and Adam Thurgood, CFA—have a combined 60 years of experience in the financial services industry. They joined Merrill Lynch in 2002 after working for Prudential Securities and manage about $340 million in assets for clients with $2 million and more in investable assets.

New York-based Dynasty Financial said True Private Wealth Advisors has become the most recent independent investment advisory firm to join its growing network of advisor teams, bringing the total to 15 teams and about $13 billion in assets under management.

True Private Wealth Advisors came on board Dynasty in Salem, Ore., with four advisors and more than $300 million in assets. It comprises two teams who formerly with the Merrill Lynch Private Client Group, including branch manager Steve Altman. (The Davis/Altman Group and the Gescher/Herber Group will remain as two separate groups under the True Private Wealth Advisors banner.)

True Private Wealth Advisors is the 15th independent advisory firm to join Dynasty’s wealth management platform and brings expertise in both commercial banking and private families to the Dynasty network of advisors.

“We think this multi-advisor partnership model is the next wave in the breakaway advisor movement,” said Tim Bello, partner and director of strategic implementation at Dynasty, in a press release. “We are getting calls from groups of advisors and branch managers who want to start their own firms while keeping their individual team structures inside the new central brand.”

While some Merrill Lynch advisors have been breaking away to go independent, the latest batch of Morgan Stanley departing advisors have chosen to keep their employee status. This includes the team of Edward Moldaver, formerly of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, who joined Barclays in New York in September, as well as advisors Robert Ceccarelli and John Hursh, who left MSSB recently to become part of Ameriprise Financial.

Moldaver, who now reports to Mark Stevenson, managing director and regional manager for New York, moves with a team that includes Wayne Chrebet, a former New York Jets player, and James Lee.

“We are very pleased to welcome this talented team of wealth management professionals to our firm,” said Mitch Cox, head of wealth management for Barclays in the Americas, in a press release. “Our unique combination of custom wealth management, rich intellectual capital and direct access to the global resources of Barclays continues to attract top-performing advisors, as well as their clients, who seek a world-class platform.”

Moldaver comes to Barclays, which now includes about 250 advisors in the United States, with about 25 years of wealth-management experience; he is now a managing director at Barclays. At Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which he joined in 2008, he founded the Moldaver 80 Group, a team of six wealth-management professionals.

Chrebet joins Barclays as an assistant vice president. He worked with Moldaver at MSSB for four years. Prior to joining the wealth management industry, Chrebet was with the National Football League and played 11 seasons for the New York Jets.

Also coming to Barclays as an assistant vice president is James Lee, who previously was with Moldaver and the MSSB team, as well as with Bear Stearns’ Private Wealth Client Services Group. Barclays says it has 13 U.S. offices and $275 billion in assets under management worldwide in the Wealth and Investment Management division.

Ameriprise Additions

Ameriprise Financial said it added advisors Ceccarelli and John Hursh from MSSB recently. The two advisors have formed a team with total assets of some $150 million. They each have about $475,000 in yearly fees and commissions. They have joined Ameriprise as employee advisors and are located in New Haven, Conn.

In late August, Ameriprise added two teams in New Jersey and said it’s on track for a strong recruiting season in the second half of 2012. “We beefed up the recruiting organization at the beginning of the year by expanding the number of regional directors from 11 to 17,” said Manish Dave, senior vice president of advisor recruiting, in an interview. 

“Ameriprise is actively investing resources in bringing more financial advisors into both [the independent/franchisee and employee] channels,” Dave explained. These efforts include increased marketing and spending, along with stepped-up efforts to bring more reps to Minneapolis for due diligence discussions.

“Results for 2012 so far show that Ameriprise is very successful at attracting advisors from all different segments of industry—wirehouses, independents and regional firms—given our multichannel approach and capabilities,” he noted.

John Lupi joined from Wells Fargo with more than $100 million in client assets and several professionals who make up Client First Financial in Colts Neck, N.J., while James Marchesi & Associates came on board from LPL Financial with about $115 million in AUM; Marchesi and his partner do business as Mill Ridge Wealth Management.

The two advisor teams are now part of Ameriprise’s independent or franchisee channel. This channel included 7,492 advisors as of June 30, while 2,311 reps were in the employee channel. 

In addition to the independent channel, the firm’s employee channel is “well positioned to take advantage of displacement in the wirehouse, ‘bankhouse’ space, as I call it. It is enjoying large levels of growth, as well,” Dave said. “Having multiple platforms is our strength, and we leave it to [advisors] to decide which platform is right for them.”

Indie Growth

Independent Financial Partners of Tampa, Fla., an independent RIA that uses LPL Financial as its broker-dealer, said it brought on 45 financial advisors in the second quarter. Plus, the RIA network had a 53% increase in revenue in Q2 compared with the year-ago period.

Year to date, the firm says, it has boosted its advisor force by more than 50% over the total number of advisors who joined the firm during all of 2011. It now has close to 500 advisors and was the largest RIA firm in Florida, according to SEC data from May.

IFP says it increased its total revenue by 300% last year and insists it “is on track for another year of massive expansion.” Recent additions to the independent RIA and LPL affiliate include nine advisors from Peregrine Diversified Investments of Dallas, who produce about $1.9 million in yearly revenue. Also, eight advisors joined from VALIC in Florida.

Over the past few months, other reps have come on board from Wells Fargo, Northwestern Mutual, Morgan Stanley, Raymond James, Securities America, Lincoln, John Hancock, SunTrust, Edward Jones, Girard Securities, Met Life and Ameriprise, among other firms.

Janney’s Push

Janney Montgomery Scott said in late August that it recruited an advisor from UBS with more than $100 million in assets. This brings its total number of recruits for the past eight months to 25, many of whom moved to Janney from the wirehouses.

As of late August, Janney had 735 employee financial advisors with $54 billion in assets under management. The broker-dealer is part of Penn Mutual Life Insurance.