Record year, marketing study led to investment in more staff

April 22, 2010 — 6:40 AM UTC by Elizabeth MacBride


Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, the independent channel of the third-largest wirehouse, is investing more in its effort to recruit wirehouse brokers after a record recruiting year.

The company, which is also known as Finet, is expanding the number of regional districts that it has from six to nine. It’s also named four new directors of the regional districts. (For a story about how HighTower is competing for the same pool of advisors with its own recruitment of recruiters, click here).

Regional directors, who often are the first point of contact for potential breakaways, have been responsible for bringing in about 30% of Finet’s new advisors, according to John Peluso, president of Finet, based in St. Louis, Mo. The company has $40 billion in assets under management, and more than 800 advisors in 47 states. It won 160 new advisors to its network last year.

Wells Fargo hired two regional directors with wirehouse backgrounds, and two with backgrounds at independent broker-dealers that are some of Finet’s biggest competitors.

The new directors are:

  • Scott Bruin, who has 20 years of experience at Smith Barney and who will manage the Southwest region;
  • Kimberly Hollenbeck, a 20-year industry veteran who was most recently at Raymond James Financial Inc., and who will be managing the South Pacific region;
  • Jason McLaughlin, with 13 years of experience in the Private Client Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, who will be managing the Great Lakes region; and
  • Kent Whitaker, who has 21 years of industry experience and was most recently with LPL Financial. He will manage the New England region.

In addition to the 30% of recruits that come through regional directors, 30% come from existing advisors in the network. Others come through external recruiters (the company has contracts with several, Peluso said, including Chester, N.J.,-based Diamond Consultants and Dublin, Ohio-based Rowlette Executive Search Consultants), through the company’s web site and advertising efforts and other sources.

Peluso said that the company was inspired to focus more on recruiting because of a market research study it completed last year, in which it found that 80% of the national full-service market was interested in learning more about becoming independent.

“The success that all of us in the independent channel have had has raised the profile,” Peluso said. “We have a broader audience now.”

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