RayJay, Ameriprise Nab More Big Teams from Wirehouses

September 24, 2019

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Ameriprise Financial and Raymond James Financial added a gloss to their aggressive broker growth plans in recent days by attracting million-dollar teams from wirehouses that have curbed their hiring appetites.

A five-person Morgan Stanley team in Houston that was generating $3 million of annual fees and commissions in the past 12 months joined Raymond James & Associates’ employee brokerage channel on Friday, according to a person familiar with the move and their BrokerCheck records.

The new RayJay team is led by Michael Gapinski, who spent more than 19 years of his 24-year career with Morgan Stanley and UBS Financial Services and who focuses on clients who are senior corporate executives contending with issues such as managing concentrated corporate equity portfolios, according to a biography on his former firm’s website.

Gapinski’s move occurred the same day that Morgan Stanley hired a team in Houston from UBS that was producing about $4 million and that also specializes in concentrated equity portfolios.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not return a request for comment on the departures.

In addition to Gapinski, who was a senior vice president, the RayJay recruits include Thomas Huggins, a 16-year industry veteran, and broker David E. Thompson, who has six years of industry experience. Two “consulting group analysts” also made the move. When Gapinski and Huggins joined Morgan Stanley in 2009 from UBS, they were managing more than $200 million on trailing-12-month production of about $1.6 million, according to a news release at the time.

In Raymond James’ fiscal third-quarter report to shareholders, CEO Paul Reilly wrote that its private client group added a net 185 brokers in the previous 12 months, ending June 30 with a record 7,904 advisors. (Forty-one percent are employees and the rest independent contractors.)

“Even in the increasingly competitive recruiting environment, our client-focused culture, multiple affiliate options and robust service and solutions continue to resonate with existing and prospective advisors,” Reilly wrote. In an earlier presentation, he said the firm’s broker-centric culture helps compensate for recruiting deals that are “substantially lower” than some rivals.

One competitor is Ameriprise, the Minneapolis-based firm that has upped its recruiting packages for employee-channel brokers. Among its latest round of wirehouse hires is a team in Annapolis, Maryland, that had been managing $675 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch.

Led by Scott McRoy, whose 33-year career was spent entirely with Merrill, the team also includes advisors Kevin B. Collison, Christopher Asher and Patrick Cotherman, plus two associates. The group, which markets itself as CAM Wealth Management, evaluated seven firms before deciding on Ameriprise, according to a news release.

“Ameriprise has a culture and philosophy that puts financial planning and wealth management at the forefront of everything they do for advisors and, most importantly, for clients,” McRoy said in a prepared statement.

Collison and Asher each have similar career paths and 20 years of experience. They began in the late 1990s with Smith Barney predecessor Legg Mason Wood Walker, remaining in its Maryland branches through Legg’s acquisitions by Smith Barney. Shortly after Morgan Stanley began absorbing Smith Barney in 2009, they left their Bowie office for a Merrill branch in Annapolis, according to their BrokerCheck histories.

Cotherman first registered with Finra as a rep in 2013 with T. Rowe Price Investment Services,and joined Merrill Lynch in 2015, according to his BrokerCheck report.

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management froze its hiring of veteran brokers in 2017 but has been training novices to join teams and branches in small community markets. It ended its second quarter with 14,690 advisors, from 14,820 a year earlier.

A Merrill spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the Annapolis team’s move.

Ameriprise, whose recruiting expenses in 2018 climbed 10%, had 9,906 brokers at June 30, including 2,176 employee advisors. Despite its growth ambitions, the firm said in July that its new hires haven’t get paced with attrition, leading to a net loss of 28 brokers across all channels in its second quarter.

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