Credit Suisse is closing its U.S. based private banking unit. (Photo: AP)

Wells Fargo Advisors (WFC) says it has won the exclusive right to recruit advisors with Credit Suisse’s private banking unit in the U.S., which is being closed. In addition, Wells Fargo says it expects to offer clients some Credit Suisse Investment Banking and Asset Management products and services in the future.

“We look forward to welcoming U.S. Private Banking relationship managers from Credit Suisse and are committed to strengthening their relationships with their clients,” said David Carroll, head of Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management,” in a statement

But it isn’t clear how many of the roughly 300 advisors with Credit Suisse will move over to Wells Fargo, which includes some 15,000 registered reps.

“Competition for the Credit Suisse advisors is extremely intense ..,” said Danny Sarch of Leitner Sarch Consultants, a recruiting firm, in an interview. “Wells Fargo is probably late to the game, though inertia is powerful – and Wells Fargo knows that. But the uncertainty at Credit Suisse [of the last two months or so] lit a fuse for the advisors.”

Sarch believes that all Credit Suisse advisors have been speaking with the wirehouse broker-dealers and other firms about their future. “That would have been the responsible thing to do,” he said.

“Wells Fargo has a bit of a home-field advantage, as they are allowed to come in and talk to the advisors. They have a platform for selling their story,” the expert said. “But it would be naïve for Wells Fargo not to think they will have a lot of leakage [of advisors], based on the number already talking to the competition.”

Earlier this month, for instance, the former Credit Suisse team of Ross Kennedy, Richard Cantwell and Stephen Michael joined a UBS private wealth management office in Boston. The three advisors have about $1 billion in assets under management and yearly fees and commissions of $7.2 million.

Another group to jump ship from the Swiss bank includes Christopher Baldwin, Thomas Tyndorf and Andrew Skoglund. This group moved to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Chicago. It managed $3.5 billion in combined client assets.

Roughly 20 advisors left Credit Suisse over the past two weeks or so, according to a Reuters report.

Plus, Wells Fargo has seen a steady stream of its own departures in recent months.

For instance, Raymond James’ independent advisor channel added the $300 million advisor team of Margaret Boyd and James “Beau” Boyd in Selma, Alabama, from Wells. The group had yearly production of about $2 million. Merrill Lynch recruited Bob Krumholz and Becca Siegel from Wells in Austin, Texas; the duo have almost $1.8 million in yearly fees & commissions and $270 million in assets.

Merrill Lynch recruited Bob Krumholz and Becca Siegel from Wells Fargo Advisors. The two reps have joined a group led by Emily O’Connell and formed Oaks Wealth Management Group in Austin, Texas.

Krumholz and Siegel, who had almost $1.8 million in yearly fees and commissions and $270 million in assets under management last year, will report to Tim Gillespie, market executive. Members of the newly formed Oaks Wealth collectively services some $481 million of client assets and $3.2 million in production last year.

“There is no big loser or winner in the wirehouse wars,” Sarch said.

However, he adds, in terms of the movement of larger producers, “Wells Fargo has not gotten many of these reps or teams. They have not been particular winners” at this level.

Unlike its wirehouse rivals, Wells Fargo hasn’t been inclined to pay generous sums up front to attract highly successful reps and teams. “That is why the Credit Suisse situation is so unusual. It runs contrary to these impressions,” explained the recruiter.

Instead, Wells Fargo has focused on medium-level producers, he notes, around the $500,000 mark. “The Credit Suisse deals seems like it’s a change in direction from their previous policy,” Sarch stated.

“It’s sad for Credit Suisse,” he said. “They are a pretty talented group of advisors and client advocates, among the most talented I’ve seen. This means an end to that legacy. It’s a big deal.”

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