Thoughts On Regionals?

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Oct 25, 2011 5:54 pm

Any employees in the mid Atlantic have strong opinions about the various regionals? Stifel, Morgan Keegan, Scott & Stringfellow, Davenport, etc., please post insights- thanks!

Dec 22, 2011 10:38 pm

I work for a small boutique mutual fund family that was founded by my father and grandfather. My primary responsibility is to travel in Virginia, NC, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and the northern parts of SC marketing our funds. My firm has a sales agreement with Stifel, Morgan Keegan & Scott & Stringfellow and I am confident that I have visited more of their branches than any other non-employees. I like all three of these firms for different reasons. Scott & String and BB&T is one of the few examples of a bank/brokerage merger that has worked. The NC Scott & String brokers get a lot of referrals from BB&T and the bank leaves the brokers alone. Instead of being a reason not to work there BB&T is an added reason to give them a look. The Regional Manager for the VA, WV region lives in my hometown and I could put you in contact with him. He is a class act but will be relinquishing his RM duties to spend more time with his grandkids. Morgan Keegan is a firm that I have always admired and was happy to get an agreement with them a few years ago. Their culture is unique and it reminds of a place that the cool kids go to when they grow up and become brokers. The firm has the uncertainty of its pending sale hurting their recruiting efforts but the buyers are rumored to be Raymond James & Stifel so there doesn't appear to be any threat of a crumby firm buying them after you join. I am scheduled to be in 8 of their branches in the next six weeks (including Memphis) and would be happy to give you contact people there. Stifel is our companies number one firm in sales the last two years although Raymond James & Associates is basically even with them. I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Kruszewski earlier this year and he is a dynamic man to say the least. Their brokers insist Stifel is better than anywhere else they have ever worked including A.G. Edwards. The place is professionally run and my back office claims they are the easiest firm to work with. I can give you ten contact numbers there by memory alone. My firm does not have an agreement with Davenport but I'd like to get one. You must live in Raleigh as that is the only city with those four firms. If that's the case take a look at Baird and Janney, both of the managers are great guys at those two firms and the Regional at Baird lives in my hometown along with the Davenport Regional.

Dec 23, 2011 4:34 pm

Check Benjamin F Edwards & Co as well.  The culture is better than the old AG Edwards and the technology is better than both AGE and WFA.  Opportunity to own on the ground floor and according to Pershing is the fastest growing firm on their platform out of some 800 companies they clear.  Trully an interesting opportunity.  More new branches coming after the holidays.

Dec 23, 2011 4:34 pm

Check Benjamin F Edwards & Co as well.  The culture is better than the old AG Edwards and the technology is better than both AGE and WFA.  Opportunity to own on the ground floor and according to Pershing is the fastest growing firm on their platform out of some 800 companies they clear.  Trully an interesting opportunity.  More new branches coming after the holidays.

Dec 24, 2011 12:01 am

Pershing has got to have more than 800 b/ds clearing through them. Benjamin Edwards doesn't have a presence in the Mid Atlantic as of yet but opened a branch in Highlands, NC a year or so ago. I called on the manager of that office when he was at WFA but can't call on him now as I do not have an agreement with BFE. It's a shame as I love Highlands and the old AG Edwards branch managers are some of the best brokers to meet with.

Dec 26, 2011 10:31 pm

tdude, you were correct with the number of firms Pershing clears for. For some reason I was thinking 1,100.

Jan 29, 2012 5:37 pm

mfund.

looks like Tad & Co opened a sizable branch in So. ILL.  Dont know if there are any age advisors left in IL at wfa.Story is several more BFEC offices are coming on line in march and apr...I still think there will be less than 1000 age advisors left of 6900 (at merger) at wfa 24 mos from now.  Of the 2400 currently left most of the retention is winding down.  I left awhile back and couldnt be happier. 

Jan 30, 2012 10:27 am

Why allign with Benjamin Edwards?  Couldn't you join LPL and get the same tech and support and call it whatever you want.  I just don't understand joining up with a firm that has no brand and paying them a cut of your pay for what?  I get the UBS, Ed Jones, M Lynch, Raymond James etc.  ... but Benjamin Edwards?  Weird.

Jan 31, 2012 1:20 am

Benjamin Edwards has a brand and the name of the firm means something to a lot of people. The AGE culture was unique and it is a firm that is missed. My guess is the people joining BFE feel like they're going back to the firm they wished had never gone away to begin with.

Jan 31, 2012 8:34 pm

element....addition to mff comments...perhaps some think ownership on the ground floor of one the fastest growing b/d in the country might be of some value too?  Going independent doesnt give you that.

Feb 8, 2012 11:43 pm

I have been at Stifel for 2 years now.  Overall, I am thrilled.  They stay out of my hair, back office is great, payout is great, culture is great.  Technology is just ok, but they are investing in it so that should improve.  Product lineup is better than at Wells (where I came from).  Research is amazing.  Bond desk is continually giving great ideas. compliance is on your side.  Did I mention that they stay out of your hair and let you do whatever kind of business that you want?  Small enough where I know the extensions of the people I want to talk to in St. Louis and have had a drink with many of them.  No service center or service requests or having my calls randomly answered by India.  Just good people in St. Louis trying to help me out.  they handled the transition process like magicians - it was very impressive.  I handed the girl a spreadsheet with my protocol client information on it at 11:00 am and by 5:00 pm, over 2,000 packets were mailed out of St. Louis with signed letters from me and the correct transfer forms for the specific types of accounts that each client had (ie 3 ira's and 2 trust accounts).  very impressive.  If I had to do it all over again, I would come here again.

Feb 9, 2012 8:12 am

[quote=Mutual_Fund_Fella]

Benjamin Edwards has a brand and the name of the firm means something to a lot of people. The AGE culture was unique and it is a firm that is missed. My guess is the people joining BFE feel like they're going back to the firm they wished had never gone away to begin with.

[/quote]

A brand name?  Yeah right!  Walk up to 100 random people and ask them who Benjamin Ewards is and I doubt you'd get a single positive responce.  Do the same with Morgan Stanley or ML or ING or UBS or Raymond James or Ed Jones and you'd get people understanding the brand.

As for the fast growing B/D in America?  That stat is sliced and diced.  It's easy to grow when your baseline is tiny. 

I'm not saying they are not great and that the ownership opporunity is not amazing .. but call a spade a spade.  You don't get a brand and it's growth is based on a very small baseline. 

Feb 9, 2012 10:19 pm

element.....i thought this was a business of entrepreneurs?  Since when does one worry about the starting point.

In 2.5 yrs they have gone from 1 to 23 branches...almost a branch a month.  From 2 advisors to close to a hundred.

I suspect 2 yrs from now you will see 250 plus advisors and you dont want to be an owner?   The indies dont offer me that.  

Feb 10, 2012 9:48 am

Since when does one worry about starting point?  When someone is talking about their amazing growth you have to look at the baseline.  If I did $25,000 in GDC last year and increased it to $75,000 GDC is that better than a guy that grew his from $200,000 to $400,000?  My % increase was much higher but its always easier to grow a small baseline number.  I was just pointing out the flaw in talking about growth of a tiny firm.

I think it's great Tad started a new firm.  I however see NO value in joining a firm with no brand recognition.  If these big AGE producers want to be owners, start their own firm and own it outright.  Why on a fractional piece of a firm when you have built one yourself? 

If you don't want to be an owner, which you are arguing that's the sole reason outside of culture for joining, it sounds like a good enough place.  Stifel would work too and offer better payouts I think.

The best part of this business is we get to choose who we work for.  Best business in the world!!!