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Wells Fargo FiNet Adds 2 Merrill Teams in California: Recruiting Roundup

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Wells Fargo has been making fresh headlines over the past week after an attorney working with it shared private information, including Social Security numbers, from 50,000 clients as well as compensation details tied to a group of financial advisors.

The news is prompting some advisors to think again about their attachment to the institution, which agreed to pay about $185 million in fines over fake bank accounts less than a year ago.

As word of Wells Fargo’s latest fiasco spread across the financial industry, one recruiter said he had received “three calls from larger teams indicating this was their last straw,” explained Danny Sarch, head of Leitner Sarch Consultants, in an interview earlier this week. “And there are still some folks out there who are not yet aware of it.”

While Janney Montgomery Scott said Tuesday it had recently recruited a team of three Wells Fargo advisors with some $2 million in yearly fees and commissions and $288 million of client assets, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network (FiNet), its independent channel, shared some good recruiting news of its own on Wednesday.

Jordan Varela and Raquel Reynolds of Palm Desert, California, left Merrill Lynch to start their own practice with FiNet. They work with over $170,000 in client assets. They registered with FiNet on July 7, and Merrill says their last day with the firm was July 10, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Both started their careers at Merrill. Verela had spent 17 year there, while Reynolds worked for the firm for about nine years and six months, BrokerCheck records state.

Tyler Polson and Paul Zambriski of Torrance, California, departed from Merrill Lynch to go independent with about $290 million in client assets.

Polson started his career at Merrill in 2002. Zambriski went into the business in 1999 and moved to Merrill in 2003. This team registered with Wells Fargo on June 30. Merrill lists their last day with the firm as being July 17, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Dynasty News

Meanwhile, a team that previously managed $250 million in client assets with Wells Fargo is launching their own RIA firm and working with Dynasty Financial Partners.

Based in Sacramento, California, Towerpoint Wealth is led by advisor Joseph Eschleman, who has 18 years in the business.

He worked for Prudential from 1999 to 2003, when he joined Wells Fargo Clearing Services, which discharged him in April 2017 after allegations, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

“It’s interesting that the Bay area has a significant number of RIAs, but in rapidly-growing Sacramento, the choices are few for fully-independent RIA firms. We see a real opportunity in the Sacramento region for a truly independent investment advisory firm to serve entrepreneurs, corporate executives and high net worth families,” Eschleman explained in a statement.

Eschelman works with two other professionals, Lori McKinney, director of client services, and Nathan Billigmeier, head of research and analytics—both of whom left Wells Fargo to join Towerpoint.

“Joe and the Towerpoint Wealth team have deep ties to Sacramento, which is one of the fastest-growing big cities in California. Towerpoint Wealth has a tremendous opportunity in this market with strong experience in working with wealthy entrepreneurs, executives and their families in developing long-range financial planning strategies,” said Shirl Penney, Dynasty’s CEO, in a press release.

Towerpoint Wealth also is working with Schwab Advisor Services.


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