The gap continues to widen in the world of recruiting so far in 2019. Stifel leads it’s fellow wealth management contemporaries by a larger and larger margin every week. And there doesn’t seem to be any slowing of that momentum.
But what to make of a firm that has quadrupled its broker headcount in the last decade? Sure, they’ve made an acquisition or two that has added advisors. But even the largest acquisition adding just a few hundred. Stifel has gone from around 600 advisors to nearly 2500 just like that.
A few thoughts to consider:
- Consistent and outperforming leadership. Ron Kruszewski has provided the firm longevity, consistency, and a well-managed media public profile. Juxtapose that against Wells Fargo’s CEO position at the moment.
- They attacked from a position of strength in the aftermath of the financial crisis. They made a significant acquisition nearly every year for the last ten and even bought a small bank to insulate themselves even further from ever being bank-owned.
- They smartly avoided caving in the fiduciary rule back and forth that many firms acquiesced to 24 months ago. Instead of revamping the firm’s culture as advisor centric they held firm until the last election cycle played out. That type of ‘grit’ has played well with advisors.
- Their recruiting pitch, led by John Pierce, Head of National Recruiting, has been perfected. Lines like “we aren’t bank owned, we own the bank” have resonated. Constant messaging that the firm is an entrepreneurial advisors ‘dream come true’ has also led to a multiplicity of wins.
- Stifel’s comp grid is basically a three pager that spells out a 50/50 split. It hasn’t meaningfully changed in five years.
All of it adds up to what a place like Merrill Lynch felt like twenty years ago. Comfortable, advisor friendly, and zero conflicts of interest. With an aging workforce, many of whom started their careers at Merrill, consistency and familiar confines feel like the right fit.
As the saying goes, “money talks and…” well, you know the rest.