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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.


Mary Ann Bartels: We will probably go through many changes as this new form of technology evolves under the umbrella of decentralized finance including cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse.
Mary Ann Bartels: We will probably go through many changes as this new form of technology evolves under the umbrella of decentralized finance including cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse.

A Merrill Lynch-intensive breakaway raft of $25-billion AUA nabbed $1-billion ex-Merrill 'Auric' and hired 'Mary Ann' -- whose last stop was at Merrill where she was a 'favorite'

CEO Jim Dickson was able to lure Mary Ann Bartels out of her furlough to join Sanctuary and flex her newfound knowledge of the metaverse and cryptoverse.

Thursday, September 8, 2022 – 11:05 PM by Brooke Southall

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Brooke's Note: Since hearing Mark Tibergien speak last Thursday in San Diego, I can't get his meta statement out of my mind -- that the wealth advice business switched from fragmentation mode to integration mode. The ex-Moss Adams/Pershing chief is almost certainly right in the ...

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Kylen Moran is one of three siblings who are building their career under their father, despite a world of options.
Kylen Moran is one of three siblings who are building their career under their father, despite a world of options.

Ten years' Barron's top advisor in Florida, the Wells, then FiNet broker in Naples, Fla. did a classic DIY breakaway of Moran Wealth where rollups, outside capital and outsourcers held no allure -- and Pershing spent the last three months on premises.

Thursday, August 25, 2022 – 1:55 AM by Brooke Southall

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Naples, Fla. is a place people go to retire. Tom Moran is doing just the opposite.

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James Iannazzo threw away his CFP (for now) and Merrill branding when he threw insults and yogurt drinks but he may yet execute a smooth landing in Westport.
James Iannazzo threw away his CFP (for now) and Merrill branding when he threw insults and yogurt drinks but he may yet execute a smooth landing in Westport.

Iannazzo's name showed up as registered broker with Ageis Capital, suggesting clients tend to forgive or are oblivious in these circumstances, recruiter says.

Saturday, March 19, 2022 – 2:36 AM by Lisa Shidler

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Merrill Lynch took less than 24 hours to fire James Iannazzo for his smoothie shop tirade, but after 52 jobless days, a little-known New York captive broker-dealer with a checkered past has apparently hired him.

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Reggie Tucker: 'Getting on board with Lorenzo is about as riskless as it comes.'
Reggie Tucker: 'Getting on board with Lorenzo is about as riskless as it comes.'

The 46 year-old Los Angeles venture capital insider is joining CEO Lorenzo Esparza's startup, specializing in media and entertainment.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 – 2:53 AM by Brooke Southall

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Lorenzo Esparza is hiring better to get much bigger and now has his 47th staffer, Reggie Tucker, on board to prove the point. His ADV counted just 13 staffers as recently as April.

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Jack Edwards: These plans may defer awards for too long, include too many advisors, or include advisors with insufficient income.  Or they may violate state law.
Jack Edwards: These plans may defer awards for too long, include too many advisors, or include advisors with insufficient income.  Or they may violate state law.

Clauses written by lawyers under duress of wide-ranging defections may have over-reached, creating an opportunity to challenge in court.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – 1:27 AM by Guest Columnist Jack Edwards Jr.

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Brooke's Note: Haste makes waste. If you leave a wirehouse without preparation, you're likely to end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit. But what if you're a wirehouse that crafts a retention scheme under duress as your staff brokers depart en masse in ...

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Eric Clarke says his firm saw 20% fewer breakaways last year and will take the lead on recruiting
Eric Clarke says his firm saw 20% fewer breakaways last year and will take the lead on recruiting

The Omaha, Neb. software giant is seeking to supply pent-up demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic after many brokers saw the benefits of working independently from home.

Monday, February 8, 2021 – 11:46 PM by Lisa Shidler

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Brooke's Note: Like in politics, two credible sources in the RIA world can look at a wall and one can say it's black when the other sees white. In this case, we have two credible sources saying 2020 was an off year for breakaways and ...

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Ron Bullis is an accidental fintech entrepreneur whose do-it-yourself RIA software took on a life of its own.
Ron Bullis is an accidental fintech entrepreneur whose do-it-yourself RIA software took on a life of its own.

The 39-year-old created his own little B2C robo-advisor that collects $400,000 annually in subscription fees but a $1.8 million investment from the Mariner CEO will morph it for B2B RIA use

Friday, November 20, 2020 – 9:09 PM by Lisa Shidler

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Ron Bullis’s story sounds familiar. He was frustrated for 10 years at a big insurance company and left to start his own RIA. But that’s where his story takes a dramatic shift.

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Kelly Trevethan lasted less than a year at a Goldman Sachs-owned United Capital.
Kelly Trevethan lasted less than a year at a Goldman Sachs-owned United Capital.

Kelly Trevethan also ended his decades-long tenure as Joe Duran's personal advisor in his trek to a new San Francisco office with Mariner Wealth Advisors.

Thursday, November 5, 2020 – 3:20 AM by Lisa Shidler

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Brooke's Note: For 25 years, we've watched Wall Street break away to Main Street. So it was quite an experiment for Goldman Sachs to simply buy back a $25-billion raft of advisor assets -- advisors included -- to complete the circle of life. But then ...

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Matt Kilgroe: We followed the evolution of the independent space- particularly on the technology side.
Matt Kilgroe: We followed the evolution of the independent space- particularly on the technology side.

New deals reflect branches/centralized decision-making as albatrosses in virtual world; Northern Florida is case in point -- sheltering at home is not the local practice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 – 2:29 AM by Brooke Southall

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The breakaway movement may have gone underground during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent market meltdown, but it never blinked.

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Dr. Ajay Dravid: Fees that are at least partly … contingent on beating a benchmark are in investors’ best interests.
Dr. Ajay Dravid: Fees that are at least partly … contingent on beating a benchmark are in investors’ best interests.

Equinox Funds, a small, academic asset manager, launches a mutual fund with fees tied to performance; now the results are in • TA Associates, owner of Orion Advisor Solutions, acquires a beachhead for RIA roll-up spree • It's full steam ahead for Sanctuary's Jim Dickson who bags breakaway No. 26

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 – 3:24 AM by Oisin Breen

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Last year, a small hedge fund broke with industry practice and put its money where its mouth is. It challenged the sector's notorious 'heads-I-win, tails-you-lose' mutual fund fees.

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Jim Dickson: Our growth has been record setting [and] our pipeline today is much greater than it was a year ago ... We’re growing so fast it’s hard to keep up.
Jim Dickson: Our growth has been record setting [and] our pipeline today is much greater than it was a year ago ... We’re growing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

Jim Dickson also recruited HighTower talent, Amit Dogra, to bring the old HighTower brokerage model and execute it as HighTower veers toward buying RIAs

Thursday, August 15, 2019 – 7:58 PM by Oisin Breen

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Brooke's Note: So many platforms with so may flavors of vanilla are cropping up. See: The Derek Bruton effect gets louder as two ex-LPL talents join Chalice And why not? Many of them do well in short order. As journalists, we can only gauge so ...

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Bill Hamm: The best laid plans will never happen because it’s the nature of the beast.
Bill Hamm: The best laid plans will never happen because it’s the nature of the beast.

IFP only retained a third of the up-for-grabs assets it shared with LPL, but CEO Bill Hamm sees silver linings

Monday, June 17, 2019 – 9:40 PM by Lisa Shidler

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Brooke's Note: When skirmishes break out between independent advisors and broker-dealers, the conclusion of the matter is almost always foregone. The independent advisor gets the better of it. That's what makes this situation interesting. LPL got the better of it. But maybe it's not so surprising. ...

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David Hou experienced another seven-year itch and dumped First Republic Bank.
David Hou experienced another seven-year itch and dumped First Republic Bank.

David Hou, $4.4B, Mark Sear, $2.9B, Robert Skinner, $4.1B, Alan Zafran $3.9 billion and Eric Harrison $1.9B are forming Evoke Wealth in Los Angeles and IEQ Capital in Monterey, Calif.

Monday, June 3, 2019 – 6:25 AM by Brooke Southall

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Brooke's Note: I caught wind of this breakaway late Sunday. It felt important enough to jump right on it. It's a really big deal and a wild one with all the simultaneous splits. I also have a personal interest in the deal in one sense. ...

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Jason Fertitta: We are excited to be able to work from the same side of the desk as our clients
Jason Fertitta: We are excited to be able to work from the same side of the desk as our clients

The Dynasty CEO and MarketCounsel CEO fended off the logistical and legal furies for small team with $6 billion in AUM and average accounts of $50 million

Monday, April 29, 2019 – 5:11 PM by Brooke Southall

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Brooke's Note: The roll-ups mostly focus their efforts on buying existing RIAs these days. Much less stressful. But much less impressive as far as mining zero-sum gains for the RIA World. Here, boom, is a good old fashioned win -- and butt-whipping for Morgan Stanley ...

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Anthony Grosso headed an elite unit for Merrill Lynch and his San Francisco roots run deep into 1990s Robertson Stephens soil.
Anthony Grosso headed an elite unit for Merrill Lynch and his San Francisco roots run deep into 1990s Robertson Stephens soil.

With Chris Dupuy in New York and Michael Outlaw in Atlanta, CEO Greg Fleming is building the ground floor for an edifice of broker recruitment

Friday, December 28, 2018 – 9:42 PM by Brooke Southall

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Brooke's Note: Sometimes it's not exactly a matter of finding a new product or business model. It's just a matter of going bigger and better. Look at Starbucks and what it did to a very existing business model: retail coffee shops. Greg Fleming is bringing ...

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