Recruiting and retention are in focus at Raymond James.

To help it pursue wirehouse advisors, Raymond James Financial (RJF) said Tuesday that it had recruited Michael Schipper, a former-Merrill Lynch (BAC) advisor in the Midwest who led branches for Citigroup-Smith Barney (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS) in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 10 years.

Schipper is now in charge of Raymond James’ employee channel at 575 Market Street in San Francisco. He’s been in the business for 23 years, mostly as a branch manager for wirehouse firms.

“As we deliver on our objective of expanding our brand in the West, and California in particular, Raymond James is delighted to have partnered with such proven talent as Michael. His experience in building and developing teams of advisors is just what we are looking for as we build out this market,” said Raymond James & Associates President Tash Elwyn, in a statement.

“He and complex manager Nathan Clakley, along with other recent appointments in Santa Barbara, San Diego and Beverly Hills, will help lead a focused expansion in these areas that are a key part of our growth strategy for the firm,” Elwyn added.

Schipper, who grew up in a small town about 45 miles away from Davenport, Iowa, says he sees “plenty of opportunity” ahead for Raymond James.

“That’s what it is all about,” the branch manager said, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “In the Bay Area and other parts of California, many financial advisors don’t know the full story or Raymond James, yet. I’m excited to tell the story.”

The Raymond James “story,” Schipper says, it that is has a “robust platform, outstanding technology and the highest integrity in the business, and the firm puts its full resources behind its financial advisors.”

Plus, these advisors “maintain full ownership of their practices — and that’s put that in writing,” he explains. “You won’t find that anywhere else on Wall Street. At other firms, they have really taken on idea that [the business] is about their clients, and advisors are servicing accounts. Clearly, these firms will go after the clients if an advisor leaves. Raymond James will not.”

While Schipper won’t disclose all of the details of his departure from Morgan Stanley, he does note that the wirehouse environment is a bit of powder keg.

“You can see it in news about the wirehouse’s cost structures and advisor payouts. As we move into late ‘14 and early ’15, they’re trying to wring every last nickel and dime out of the cost structure that they can to improve earnings,” the branch manager said.

What Raymond James has to offer, Schipper says, should be “refreshing for them.”

Being in downtown San Francisco, the hotbed of startups as well as traditional firms like Charles Schwab (SCHW), is fun for the ex-Morgan Stanley branch manager.

“We’re in the old Chevron building on the 39th floor in a brand new space. There are many small boutique companies,” he said. “And the structure is just right for Raymond James’ growth plan. We are looking to expand rapidly in this location and are looking at alternative locations, too, in the Bay Area.”

How does he feel about being in Schwab’s backyard? “We don’t play in the same space,” explained Schipper. “And there’s plenty of room for all of us.”

— Check out Morgan Stanley Payouts in ’15: Will a Boost in Deferred Comp Hurt Reps? on ThinkAdvisor.