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UBS To Win Wirehouse Recruiting Wars

SuperUser Account posted on March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012

UBS Wealth Management Americas will dominate this year’s wirehouse recruiting wars, beating out competitors Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Wells Fargo Advisors, according to a plurality of FundFire poll respondents.

Roughly 39%, or 185 respondents, said that UBS will poach the most advisors from rival wirehouses, making that the most popular response to the poll, published Wednesday.

That opinion comes on the heels of a hiring push by UBS, as reported. The other three wirehouses have also been actively hiring advisors and advisor teams from each other.

As the recruiting battles wage on, 32% of the FundFire poll respondents – 152 in all – expect that Morgan Stanley Smith Barney will dominate this year’s recruiting wars, ranking that opinion in second place.

Wells Fargo garnered 15%, or 74 votes, ranking it third among the responses, while about 14%, or 69 respondents, said Merrill Lynch will recruit the most advisors from rivals, a hair’s breadth away from Wells Fargo, but still the least popular sentiment.

Though a large recruiting bonus certainly helps, there’s really no single attribute that makes one wirehouse a better poacher than another, according to industry experts. What an advisor is looking for in an employer determines whether a rival wirehouse is attractive to the advisor, experts say.

When considering a move to new firm, advisors are “usually concerned with the [recruiting firm’s] brand, value proposition, execution and transparency in compensation” – which are characteristics that all wirehouses offer, although in varying in degrees, says Bill Donnelly, managing consultant at Val Executive Resources Group.

Advisors have “their own hierarchy of needs” and base their decision on the extent that a prospective employer meets the advisor’s need in each of those four areas, he explains.

A wirehouse’s reputation is the key draw for some advisors, according to Rick Rummage, managing partner of career consultancy The Rummage Group. “There are advisors who really believe that if they don’t work for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney or Merrill Lynch, that they are inadequate,” he says. For advisors in this group, those two wirehouses will seem the most attractive as they have the most name recognition.

Meanwhile, other advisors are looking for firms that are more “user-friendly” – more flexible, with fewer rules and internal regulations, and where they believe they will become more valued, according to Rummage. “They tend to navigate toward Wells Fargo and, to a lesser degree, UBS,” he says. Wells Fargo is the most user-friendly, but its recruiting offers tend to be less lucrative than its competitors’, according to Rummage. UBS probably will be the most aggressive of all four wirehouses in its recruiting practices this year, he adds.

However, what advisors say they want from an employer may differ from what actually reels them in, Rummage says. “They say they are looking for a firm that is more user-friendly and where they feel more valued, but at the end of the day, the check and the name recognition are the biggest players.”

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 480 FundFire subscribers had participated in the poll, which is an unscientific sampling of the publication’s subscribers. Readers could vote only once, on a voluntary basis.

Tags: Personnel , Merrill Lynch , Morgan Stanley Smith Barney , The Rummage Group , UBS Wealth Management Americas , Val Executive Resources Group , Wells Fargo Advisors