Smith Barney Loses Top Executive, CFO Program To Be Rebranded

After just 7 months on the job, Chris di Bonaventura, head of the Citi Family Office group, handed in his resignation, Smith Barney confirmed. The departing exec is joining Fidelity’s Family Office Service Business.

After just 7 months on the job, Chris di Bonaventura, head of the Citi Family Office group, handed in his resignation, Smith Barney confirmed. The departing exec is joining Fidelity’s Family Office Service Business.

“I think he probably sensed, like Ed [Orazem], that the [CFO] program was being scuttled,” says one FA. Di Bonaventura’s predecessor, Ed Orazem, ran Citi Family Office between 2006 and January of this year, when he took the job as president of Fidelity’s Family Office Service Business.

Since the joint venture between Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney was announced, executives at both firms have been in discussions about how to combine the two retail financial advisory divisions. Morgan Stanley executives have been making the case for integrating CFO advisors into PWM’s model, and, in a national roadshow, they have been touting the benefits of PWM, says one CFO advisor.

The advisor says he won't join PWM because it doesn’t offer anything he doesn’t already have, plus it would require him to get rid of all accounts with less than $1 million and would result in a reduced payout. “I was invited to join PWM,” he says. “But I’m not taking the bait. When the third and fourth quarters come and none of us have moved, maybe they’ll rethink it. But there’s nothing they can do to make me join PWM and they can’t afford to lose 200 of their best FAs.”

But a Smith Barney spokesperson says that the Citi Family Office group will simply be rebranded the Family Wealth Director group, keeping the requirements to join intact. Those CFO advisors who qualify will be invited to join PWM, the spokesperson says, but will not be forced to make the switch.
Another Smith Barney CFO advisor predicts that a third of Smith Barney CFO advisors will join PWM. The advisor, who who caters mostly to ultra high net worth clients and fits the PWM profile, says he plans to join the PWM division himself.

The Citi Family Office program was created in 2007 to offer further training for top advisors that focused on high net worth and ultra high net worth business. Today it consists of roughly 200 financial advisors working out of 80 Smith Barney offices alongside other Smith Barney FAs and typically managing a few hundred clients. The Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management or “PWM” group is more exclusive—150 advisors working in 8 exclusive PWM offices, primarily with 40 to 50 ultra-high-net-worth clients each.

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