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.


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 start-up 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 other ...

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Howard Diamond: Advisors are reconsidering what’s most important to them, with a push from the very firms they have come from by way of less monetary incentive.

Why the DOL's Draconian and premature interpretation of its new rule is the 'end of the world as we know it' for wirehouse recruiting but a bonanza for the RIA business

Last week's DOL Q&A cast an immediate chill on wirehouses whose back-end-loaded incentives meant to jack up sales production have essentially been outlawed

November 4, 2016 — 4:02 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Howard Diamond

Brooke's Note: I get a handful of inquiries every week from people wanting know what a guest column submission to RIABiz should look like. There is no formula. But this piece by Howard Diamond is as good a prototype as I could hold out. It takes an ...

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Tony Velasquez: He warned me that I didn't want to wake up at 50 and have to go out and get all new clients just to pay my mortgage. That stuck with me.

How I became an RIA by winning a golfer's trust in my caddie days and why I broke from his OSJ to avoid conflicts of interest

Tony Velasquez, who met his mentor and first boss on the links, has advice for captive brokers -- don't let the B-Ds scare you into staying!

September 30, 2016 — 8:53 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Tony Velasquez

Brooke's Note: This origin story contains a critical element you see in some many tales of getting to RIA status. The person or institution that shows that initial faith to train and mentor and embrace the greenest, least-qualified you, also turns out to be part of ...

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David Mrazik: There are a lot of facts we need to learn to see what is real and what’s imagined here.

After BNY Mellon buys $2.7-billion Silicon Valley RIA, it files suit against four former staffers who file swift-uppercut countersuit

Four former Atherton Lane advisors form Lyell Wealth Management and say they never promised anything to their employer's acquirng mega-bank

September 27, 2016 — 8:07 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: This whole BNY purchase of a big RIA in Menlo Park had a surreal feel from the start. See: BNY buys $2.7B Silicon Valley RIA  But if it's true that employees got sued for a deal that they never were part ...

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Despite the 33-year age span, the newly independent partners say they work as an unusually copacetic team.

In search of a 'mind-set' shift, $2.2 billion Wichita team tunneled out of Morgan Stanley -- taking absolutely no chances with the guards

Despite the team's three-decade age span, the Morgan Stanley veterans shared a vision for a practice -- one without a roll-up, outsourcer or dictates from New York.

September 19, 2016 — 6:30 PM UTC by By Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: This breakaway is molded -- like a gigantic chunk of prairie sod -- out of the heartland of America. But its sheer size, attitude and sophistication have all the markings of the big breakaways we see in places like New York and LA. Part of that ...

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Andrew Stern: We had a chance to be in a control position.

Lebenthal breakaways stake out a pricey swath of the Hamptons the better to entice wealthy society types who now live there year-round

YorkBridge Wealth Partners is occupying Lebenthal's old digs in Southhampton, the better to scope out UHNW luminaries

August 9, 2016 — 11:23 PM UTC by Brooke Southall and Keith Girard

Brooke’s Note: Perhaps the one place where Wall Street asserts its force of bare-knuckled spending power more than it does on the south end of Manhattan is the north end of Long Island. It seems like the perfect place for an RIA, but for ...

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Alan Zafran: Luminous nearly doubled assets in the past three-and-a half years under First Republic.

First Republic's $70B-plus RIA roll-up loses four top executives as its contract with Luminous team ticks down

Sources say another Great Hou-Sear Escape could be in the offing based on the team's clannish ways when it comes to technology

August 8, 2016 — 8:10 PM UTC by Lisa Shidler

Brooke’s Note: There’s no sale like a fire sale — especially when Bank of America is the seller. Chuck Schwab bought his company back from the national bank, built Schwab up and padded his wealth by billions. James Herbert has pulled the same trick ...

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Mike Di Girolamo in his Cucina Sabina: Too often I have seen nice advisors or financial professionals handle their own planning last, not do it, or just do it too late.

What exactly led to a Raymond James lifer morphing into a cooking school proprietor in Italy

Two years into his venture, Mike Di Girolamo tells what went into effecting his mouthwatering second chapter

August 3, 2016 — 5:28 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Mike Di Girolamo

Brooke’s Note: One version of the American Dream says that you grow up and move into a picket-fenced home teeming with family life. But that’s just Act One. Act Two is about retiring early and moving to a paradise-like, soul-expanding realm and pursuing ...

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