Brokers looking for a home at a regional firm find their options quite limited these days. Many regionals have been swallowed up, or, in the case of Wachovia, have done the swallowing on their own.
But, recruiters say, one regional is separating itself from the others in this competitive job market: Baltimore-based Legg Mason. Several say the firm is making “aggressive” moves to recruit wirehouse advisors, with increasing success.
“I think they largely stayed out of the way of all the big wirehouse slop,” says one recruiter. In addition, a J.D. Power & Associates survey recently rated the firm as top among U.S. broker/dealers in terms of investor satisfaction.
Outside recruiters familiar with the firm's packages say upfront bonuses aren't in the 100 percent range others are proffering. In fact, they're closer to half of that, but the firm is hopeful it can still gain some traction. Laura Lang, senior vice president for sales management at Legg Mason, would not comment specifically on the firm's packages.
Legg Mason currently has about 1,400 retail advisors on staff, the largest advisor workforce in its history. Lang says that while the firm has not “gone out and jacked up its deals,” it is reaping the benefits of a job market full of advisors looking for more autonomy. “We're big enough to offer the important things to our advisors while giving them a better environment in which to work,” Lang says.
She says much of the staff growth in recent years has been through the trainee program. “Our consultants showed us that [the trainees] began making money for us in their second year,” Lang says.
For the first time, Legg Mason has hired in-house recruiters to target outside advisors and trainee candidates. “We're not going to appeal to the rent-a-brokers, and I think people appreciate that,” she says.