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Recruiters Leveraging Broker Fear Over FINRA Disclosure Rule

Recruiters Leveraging Broker Fear Over FINRA Disclosure Rule

Letter aims to poach advisors before regulation takes effect

There’s still time to receive those big recruitment packages to change firms, but do it fast, before FINRA makes you tell your clients how much you are getting paid to make the move. That’s the message Ameriprise Financial and others are sending to the wirehouse advisors they would like to poach.

FINRA’s proposal, filed with the SEC in March, would require advisors who have taken compensation to change firms to disclose to clients when they received more than $100,000 (including signing bonuses and other payments). Some fear the forced disclosure will make it harder to recruit advisors who don't want their clients to think they are changing firms purely for the money.

In a letter last sent month to a UBS advisor at his home, an Ameriprise Financial complex director made the case that advisors need to change firms before FINRA’s rule is enacted.

“I’m writing to let you know that this disclosure rule has a new name, FINRA 2243, and is one step closer to reality …. With tax season behind us, the timing for us to meet is as good as it’s over going to be. From the perspective of making a transaction, consider the following: … deals are still private—rule 2243 isn’t in effect, yet.”

Read the full document

According to deal data provided by AdvisorHUB, Ameriprise pays out up to 270 percent (120 percent upfront and 150 percent over four years) of trailing revenue to top advisors who’ve attained the “gold standard” of production. Advisors with smaller businesses, dings on their record or other issues may be looking at a slightly smaller payout, around 230 percent.

Included with the letter was a sample of the FINRA 2243 disclosure form, as well as the text of the proposed rule change (See Andrew Parish’s reaction here). Calls to Ameriprise Financial and the complex director involved were not immediately returned Thursday.

Ameriprise is not alone, says Jodie Papike, executive vice president of Cross Search Broker & Executive Placement. “I’ve heard that other wirehouse recruiters are doing this too,” she says. “This kind of messaging has been going on for months.”

With good advisors at a premium, firms will do almost anything to get them to think about moving, Papike says. “Right now, this is the message, but if the rule goes through, it will change.”

Under FINRA's proposal, advisors will have to disclose recruitment compensation in ranges, for example, from $100,000 to $500,000, or $500,000 to $1 million.

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