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Breakaway Stories

There are about $5 trillion of assets parked in traditional stock brokerage firms, but they're not likely to stay there. Every month, clients move some of their money to independent firms with fewer conflicts of interest. Brokers who want more control are moving their books of business, too.

In these Breakaway Stories, you'll find instructive, encouraging and sometimes funny stories about these breakaway brokers and their clients. The information in the stories is accurate as of the date of publication. We hope these tales are useful for breakaway prospects and for people interested in luring wirehouse talent to their firms.


Craig Pearson: [Clients] said: If you come back, we're here.

A higher bidder ripped WealthTouch from Craig Pearson's grasp but his startup could rip the clients, free of charge, right back -- and leave Addepar gasping

After his noncompete expired, the founder and CEO of Private Wealth Systems is welcoming old UHNW managers whose language he speaks

April 25, 2018 — 6:27 PM UTC by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Philosophers are loaded with reasons why vast wealth can screw up your life. Not on that list is the bit where Midas lacks the proper software keep track of all his family's lucre. But Craig Pearson, whose family, he wryly states, went from "riches ...

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Greg Fleming is setting the bar high.

Recruiters salivate as Greg Fleming completes marriage to Rockefeller & Co. to fill 'HighTower' void but now begins the wait for a business model

The Morgan Stanley ex-head sees 500% assets growth to $100 billion AUA by 2023 as critics see old branding, old money, old technology and old recruiting challenges

March 9, 2018 — 11:03 PM UTC by James Picerno

Brooke's Note: When a wirehouse broker started out on Wall Street in my day there were a few weeks of cramming for the Series 7 and then somebody pointed to a phone on a desk and said: "Start making calls. Good luck." Maybe nobody ...

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David Root: It's a Pittsburgh story. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try to take full advantage of our position.

How a $500-million Commonwealth rep became a $5-billion-plus RIA in two years and where Dynasty's M&A war on roll-ups comes in

After forming his own RIA, moving assets to Schwab and partnering with Shirl Penney's firm, David Root just kept M&A-rolling into 401(k) clover

January 19, 2018 — 8:19 PM UTC by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Roll-ups are often their own worst enemies. Their ability to write checks to buy revenues is an awesome power but comes with the danger of getting drunk with that power and failing to maintain those assets profitably long-term. Now, roll-ups have a ...

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Tom Naratil plays catch-up on recruitment withdrawal after setting the early pace.

How UBS exited the Broker Protocol and why the aftereffects may surpass those of Morgan Stanley's earlier departure

Using Thanksgiving and the alleged complicity of his firm's attorneys as a smoke screen, CEO Tom Naratil made good on warning to slam the door on his sales force

November 28, 2017 — 2:37 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Watch any NFL game and you'll see delay-of-game penalties even though the quarterback was staring straight at the giant digital clock. People get hit by freight trains visible far in the distance. For some, it turns out, the only effective warning of an ...

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Sharron Ash: What next? Are they going to call it attorney-client reporting?

RIA lawyers cry foul against Bressler, Amery & Ross -- keeper of the Protocol flame -- after Morgan Stanley exit throws sunlight on attorney behavior

A livid Sharron Ash says she was stonewalled by Bressler, Amery when she called for info after spotting a buried notice that Morgan Stanley was bowing out of the Protocol

November 2, 2017 — 5:26 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Perhaps no profession shows more collegiality than lawyers. But most lawyers are also sticklers for ethics in their own field.  When they think something may be way out of whack, concern over ethics quickly usurps collegiality. This article addresses a tricky case on one ...

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Shirl Penney: People really get angry.

Timing of Morgan Stanley's Broker Protocol withdrawal sends shocks through RIA legal and recruiting circles

Hundreds of planned and in-process breakaways are reassessed after keeper of the list, Bressler, Amery, & Ross, sat on the change for a week but a silver lining is already emerging

October 31, 2017 — 3:08 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Arguably, the Broker Protocol, established in 2004, was the gift from the Wall Street gods that got the RIA business to critical mass, allowing breakaway brokers to leave with their client assets without getting their asses sued off. That was the good news. The ...

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Matthew Borden: When it goes to the jury it’s gonna be plain to see through what the bank is doing .... Meanwhile my clients are [n]ot cowering from the bank and not shirking their duties to their clients.

Silicon Valley $300-million RIA strikes back at $30-trillion BNY Mellon with act of counter-intimidation

Lyell Wealth's response in the Atherton Lane case discloses dirty laundry list of allegations including blatant cross-selling, bullying ex-Atherton advisors out the door and retaliation against clients considering following them

August 10, 2017 — 4:23 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: Here's a hell of an interesting case involving four advisors breaking away from an RIA -- Atherton Lane -- to form their own firm, Lyell. The twist is that the RIA it left had just been purchased by BNY Mellon -- and here they are being sued ...

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John Straus: Other broker-dealers are not experienced in dealing with a wealthy complex client.

Raymond James looks to extend its RIA roll-up success with FallLine deal that gets John Straus off the startup schneid

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based broker-dealer connected with Steward and this time it gets play at making gains in two weak areas -- serving RIAs and ultra high net worth investors

July 13, 2017 — 9:04 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: That old Michael Jordan aphorism about how it's not about how you start but how you finish comes to mind here. Not that John Straus had a bad start to his career. He rose high at UBS. But he's been battling for ...

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Matthew Celenza: The barriers are now broken.

Schwab and Dynasty break $1B Celenza team out of Merrill Lynch five years after Barclays effort flags

Matthew Celenza reunites with former Citi contacts Shirl Penney and Todd Thomson to resume shared vision

July 11, 2017 — 2:01 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: I never tire of talking to men and women who have just emerged on the RIA stage. The vibe is one of transcendence, literally and figuratively. Still, there was an extra oomph of enthusiasm in my interview with this son of a florist who ...

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Jeffrey Friedstein gets a summer break just when he didn't want one.

A Goldman Sachs team attempts breakaway with a client as stakeholder in new RIA and suffers the consequences

Grey Street Capital will have to wait until August to solicit former clients -- at the very least

June 22, 2017 — 9:21 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: Maybe we'll get the full story of how a Goldman Sachs team blundered into a breakaway brick wall in 2017 when everybody presumably has the blueprints to the wirehouse penitentiary. Grant you there is the possibility that there really were no losers ...

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Phil Fiore: It gave us the kick to make Procyon happen.

Triumphant Phil Fiore set to regain $8.4 billion of AUA that UBS stripped away by firing him in November

Reunited with former partners at newly founded RIA Procyon Partners, and despite a last-minute UBS lawsuit seeking a restraining order, the wirehouse veteran appears to be back in the driver's seat

June 19, 2017 — 2:00 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Politics aside, I have marveled of late at how -- given time -- the system of checks and balances works under the U.S. Constitution. Its dynamism may only be exceeded by the free enterprise system. UBS can fire you one day but the ...

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Bill Willis: If you pull out of the market you’re eventually gonna regret it. Recruiting is a momentum thing.

How Wells Fargo is using 'counter-punch' to get unheard-of upper hand in the poaching wars with Morgan, Merrill and UBS

The DOL rule, abject opportunism and a little luck give the non-wirehouse wirehouse a window to reverse decades of getting bludgeoned by big checks

June 15, 2017 — 10:42 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: Most brokers at wirehouses say that they'd rather be an RIA -- eventually. But many of these transactional agents of personal finance can't pass up the deals that guarantee to lock in millions of dollar in compensation. Many people believed RIA recruiting ...

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[Melissa Gray and] David Darby: We feel this is the future of the wealth management advisory business.

Dynasty Financial wins its first Goldman Sachs team -- a Schwab RIA now with $1 billion of UHNW advised assets

Amid 'uptick' nationally in Goldman Sachs teams bolting, David Darby and Melissa Gray reunite with big help from the New York umbrella firm and Black Diamond software

June 6, 2017 — 2:15 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: One of the most over-predicted moments in RIA history is the one where the wirehouse dam breaks and all the brokers run away and become registered investment advisors. But just as we are all giving up on that moment ever arriving, there ...

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Peter Mallouk owns a $21-billion RIA already growing with organic ferocity. Then Tony Robbins shows up and whoosh.

The 10 RIABiz stories advisors connected with most deeply in 2016 and how hubris and humility ran amok in this didn't-see-it-coming year

How did Aequitas swamp CONCERT? Power outages at LPL, Cetera and Wealthfront? Adolescent robo problems? And was that Tony Robbins hawking his money book ... again?

December 28, 2016 — 5:54 PM UTC by Dina Hampton

Brooke's Note: Choosing which articles were of greatest interest to RIABiz readers in 2016 was easy because a Google robot  measures the final results of your reading output.  We then refresh your human memory about why the story was so irrestistible at the time. Big ...

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Brian Cooke with brother Chris: Normally when you leave it’s in the middle of the night and not out the front door.

Wells Fargo $1.7 billion 'Profit-Formula' group executes breakaway with help and of ... Wells Fargo

Cooke Financial Group of Indianapolis left the wirehouse in a broad daylight, front door exit with some diligent help of from their bosses

December 2, 2016 — 12:19 AM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: The broker Protocol is a humane and good natured agreement in an industry where those qualities can be in short supply. But if you break away to become an RIA under the Protocol, you still need Shawshank Redemption-level escape skills to get to the ...

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