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Wells Fargo Outlines Disciplined Approach to Onboarding RIAs

Wells Fargo Outlines Disciplined Approach to Onboarding RIAs

The firm said it will have transitioned a dozen teams to its fee-only channel by the end of January.

Wells Fargo Advisors has added the sixth team to its new fee-only registered investment advisor channel, and it expects to onboard another six teams to the model by January 2020. While the firm could very well take on more, John Peluso, head of First Clearing, the Wells Fargo subsidiary that will provide custody services to fee-only RIAs, said the firm is initially taking a disciplined approach to adding RIA firms to the platform to learn and fine-tune the process.  

So far, only advisors from the bank’s wirehouse have transitioned, although they’ve had conversations with advisors who are with the firm’s independent broker/dealer. Peluso said the firm will get more offensive in terms of adding advisors outside of Wells Fargo next year.

The Berry Group, a Worcester, Mass.-based Wells Fargo Advisors team with $575 million in assets, is the latest team to transition over. The team includes Managing Partners Sarah Berry and Michael Machnowski, Wealth Advisor Oliver Cragan and Senior Client Service Officer Cathy McGinty.

The team said that as they started telling their clients, centers of influence and friends about the decision to move, some of their old prospects reinitiated conversations with them and are now on track to become clients.

Wells Fargo has partnered with TradePMR to provide middle-office support to independent RIAs that choose the new custodial services.

Machnowski said the team was attracted to TradePMR’s software, its integration capabilities and high advisor satisfaction ratings.

Advisors use TradePMR’s Fusion platform as their advisor desktop. But they will continue to have access to some of the components of SmartStation, Wells Fargo’s desktop solution, for financial planning information and some performance reporting data.  

Advisors on the new RIA platform continue to have access to Wells Fargo’s banking and lending solutions, corporate executive services, tax planning, estate planning, Social Security and Medicare experts. Clients will also have a similar digital experience, Peluso added.

“When you've got an option that allows you to stay with the home team and to run your business as a fee-only RIA and be a fiduciary, and you can do it with an organization that you have an enormous amount of respect for, that you're familiar with, that's the best of all worlds,” Peluso said.

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